WALES’ new transport secretary has said he “can’t see” an M4 relief road being built due to “astronomical” costs and the work that has already taken place on "alternative solutions".

Ken Skates MS appeared on BBC Radio Wales show Sunday Supplement yesterday, March 24.

The new North Wales and transport secretary praised his predecessor, former deputy climate change minister Lee Waters, for bringing a “huge amount of energy” to the role.

Asked how his regime would be different, Mr Skates said he had a “very full discussion” with the new first minister - his long-time ally Vaughan Gething - about the expectations.

“I’ve had a very, very full discussion with the new first minister about what he wants me to do and the priority is to listen and take action based on the listening that is going to take place in the forthcoming months - whether it’s on 20mph or roadbuilding,” said Mr Skates.

'Cannot ignore the reality'

He said the “listening” philosophy applied to both the transport and North Wales areas of his new portfolio.

But some of the loudest calls for road building relate to an M4 relief road in the south.

Former first minister Mark Drakeford described the call to scrap the M4 Corridor Around Newport (M4CAN) as his “first major decision” at the helm.

South Wales Argus: Mark Drakeford said a Corridor Around Newport was not in the 'long-term interests of Wales'Mark Drakeford said a Corridor Around Newport was not in the 'long-term interests of Wales'

He defended that decision in his final address to the Senedd last week, saying it was not in the “long-term interests of Wales”.

READ MORE: Drakeford stands by scrapping M4 relief road in final moments as first minister

Mr Gething, the new first minister, spoke fondly of the plans at the time but said in his leadership campaign the “ship had sailed”.

Mr Skates said the government would build new roads according to their criteria but “cannot ignore the reality of public finances”.

“I want Wales to be at the forefront of design and implementation of new infrastructure schemes,” he said.

Despite signalling he is open to discussions with the UK Government and English authorities, he believes “astronomical” prices put the idea of an M4 relief road in the rear-view mirror.

“I just can’t see that happening,” he said. “As far as I can see that opportunity has come and gone, that project. In no small part, because the cost would now be astronomical.

South Wales Argus: The new transport secretary said the cost of a relief road would now be 'astronomical'The new transport secretary said the cost of a relief road would now be 'astronomical'

“A huge amount of work has been done by the South East Wales Transport Commission, and local authorities, and the advisory board that goes with it, to find alternative solutions that are largely built on utilising existing rail infrastructure and investing very heavily in rail lines in new stations to ensure there’s an alternative - a viable alternative - to the car use that we've been seeing until now and which we have to address.

"We have to give people alternative means of getting to and from communities in South East Wales and I'm determined to work with anyone who has an idea, or funding, or the energy to be able to address the challenge that people face."

READ MORE: How many times was the M4 closed through Newport last year?

Andrew RT Davies MS, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said the transport secretary's words were “meaningless”.

“When you look at his voting record, this Transport Minister has supported the policies that have consigned the Welsh economy to the slow lane for a generation or more, including voting against building the M4 relief road.

“The Welsh Conservatives have been clear from the start, we will scrap 20mph speed limits, reverse Labour’s road building ban and build the M4 relief road to get Wales moving.”