THE Welsh Government has been criticised by AMs for not having a 'plan B' ready to go when the M4 relief road was scrapped.

First minister Mark Drakeford last week announced the so-called black route - which would have involved a new stretch of motorway running south of Newport - would not go ahead.

At the time he said he did not believe the scheme, estimated to cost £1.6 billion, with the final pricetag likely to be close to £2 billion, would offer value for money, and the damage to the environment would be too great. A commission looking at alternatives has been set up, and will report back within six months.


But, speaking in the Assembly, South Wales East AM Delyth Jewell said, while she agreed scrapping the black route was the correct course of action, she was concerned this had put the problem with congestion around Newport “back to square one”.

“Many of us were surprised that Welsh Government didn't have a plan B ready to go, so we're having to begin from scratch with the establishment of yet another commission to consider which of the alternatives to the black route should be pursued,” she said.

“The problems for Newport will not go away on their own.

“People living in Newport, one of my members of staff included, are desperate for a solution to congestion and pollution that too often spills onto their streets when accidents at the Brynglas Tunnels mean that traffic is redirected.

“It can't be allowed to just get worse.”

The Plaid Cymru AM was presenting a motion by her party calling for borrowing powers the Welsh Government would have used to pay for the road, to instead be used to fund “a green and sustainable integrated Welsh transport network” – with a specific focus on congestion issues around Newport.

But Newport West AM Jayne Bryant said she was concerned allowing the funding for the road to be “siphoned away to hundreds of different projects” would mean the overall impact of any new measures would be diluted.

“The money that has been set aside for tackling this specific problem must be spent on doing exactly that – tackling the congestion and air pollution caused by the M4 around Newport,” she said.

“The Welsh Government has given assurances that the commission will have first call on the money that would have otherwise been set aside. They must be given the resources to put their solutions into practice.”


Conservative AM Russell George also criticised the Welsh Government, saying: “The congestion on the M4 motorway is one of the most worrying examples of, I think, the Welsh Government's poor management, I'm afraid, of Wales's transport network.

“Despite the importance of the M4 route, there is still no practical solution to the congestion issues on the road.”

Responding, economy and transport minister Ken Skates said he and the first minister were “absolutely committed to addressing the problems of congestion on the network in south east Wales”.

“The first minister has already been clear that the recommendations put forward by the commission will have the first call on funding set aside by the Welsh Government to resolve the issues that we see on that part of the network,” he said. “But we've also been clear with members that those solutions must represent good value for money.

“And it will be for the commission to consider all solutions – we will not be entertaining any pet projects."