A VOTE on the M4 relief road should be held in the Assembly before the project is signed off, Gwent AMs have said. 

It comes a week after a call for AMs to be given the final say on whether the scheme, currently predicted to cost up to £1.4 billion, should be given the go-ahead was rejected.

A public inquiry into the long-promised project, which is examining the Welsh Government’s preferred option of the so-called black route, a new stretch of motorway running south of Newport, and other alternatives, is expected to conclude shortly.

Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay said he believed it is reasonable to give AMs a vote.

“We need to deal with peak-time congestion around Newport and that solution must include road improvements,” added the Conservative AM.
“However, there are now questions about the black route’s affordability and whether the Welsh Government is actually in a position to deliver it at all.”

South Wales East AM Mark Reckless agreed, saying: “I am concerned by escalating costs but believe that the M4 relief road is necessary for our region.

“Along with the abolition of the Severn tolls building the M4 relief road could greatly benefit the Welsh economy. I expect to support it if it is recommended by the public inquiry.”

But Labour Newport East AM John Griffiths said, while people are frustrated at congestion on the M4, the black route brought with it a number of problems.

“I would prefer to invest the M4 relief road’s £1.4 billion, and rising, in integrated transport,” he said. “We must catch up with much of the rest of Europe, where public transport is far better and carries a lot more passengers.”

Mohammad Asghar, AM for South Wales East, said he would like to know what more residents and environmentalists think.

“Only then should we proceed with the viable route, with all in agreement,” the Conservative AM said. 

Newport West AM Jayne Bryant said: “The local public inquiry will be reporting in the next few months.  It is hugely significant for the region and for Wales more widely, it is crucial that everyone has had the opportunity to have their say.  Like others I’m eagerly waiting to see the outcome of the inquiry.”

Torfaen’s Lynne Neagle said she felt it was important to let the public inquiry run its course and report before commenting.

Newport Now Business Improvement District manager Kevin Ward said businesses in the city centre were overwhelmingly of the view that the relief road is long overdue.

"The bottleneck at the Brynglas Tunnels is a major disincentive to trade and not building the relief road risks the economic future of this area, he added.

“The relief road should be part of a wider transport strategy for this part of Wales that also includes the Metro. The two schemes are not ‘either or’ options”, Mr Ward continued. 

A Welsh Government spokesman said yesterday: “The Welsh Government will table a debate on the M4 plans later this year.”

A commitment to deliver a “relief road for the M4” was included in Welsh Labour’s manifesto last year.

Islwyn’s Rhianon Passmore, Blaenau Gwent’s Alun Davies, and Steffan Lewis and David Rowlands, who both represent South Wales East, were also contacted for comment.