M4 relief road call to be renewed by Tories in Newport today

SECRETARY of State for Wales Simon Hart will today visit a Newport haulage company to “emphasise the importance of the next Welsh Government delivering the M4 relief road”. In the build-up to the Senedd election on May 6, the Welsh Conservatives have revealed what they call an ambitious GBP2 billion infrastructure plan which “will include the delivery of the M4 relief road”. The party’s manifesto says it will “create modern infrastructure for Wales, including an M4 Relief Road, upgrades to the A55 and A40, and 20,000 green charging points”.

Simon Hart The manifesto adds that these upgrades would act as “key routes to the rest of the United Kingdom” and that they will be designated as “Union Highways” to “ensure their priority in rebuilding our economy.” Plans for a relief road were first proposed in 1991, but there have been decades of delays, changes and renewed efforts to alleviate traffic congestion issues around the Brynglas Tunnels.

At peak times, around 3,000 to 5,000 vehicles use the road approaching the Brynglas Tunnels per hour. During his visit to the Monex Group at Leeway Industrial Estate today Mr Hart says he will reiterate the party’s commitment to the scheme. “The M4 is one of the most important arterial routes in the UK, and is the spine of the southern UK economic corridor,” he said.

M4 relief road call to be renewed by Tories in Newport todayLeader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies READ MORE: “Everyone recognises that this gateway is being choked just as you arrive into Wales, restricting economic growth from Newport all the way to Pembrokeshire, making life and business a nightmare for companies such as Monex Group.

“The Welsh Labour Government continues to ignore the problem and instead offers distractions that will hardly skim the surface. “The easiest way to get this project over the line is by voting for a Welsh Conservative Government in May who can work with myself and others in UK Government to get diggers in the ground as soon as possible. “People in Wales have had enough of false promises and want a devolved Government that will get things done.”

Towards the end of last year the Burns Commission published its final report, recommending alternatives to the relief road project. At the time Lord Terry Burns told the Argus: “It [Newport] needed something that was much bigger and more comprehensive if one was going to both ease the pressures on the road, but also make Newport a much better place to live, in terms of cleaner air and better access to transport and jobs.” First Minister Mark Drakeford has since reiterated that “that decision is over” on the relief road, but talks have since emerged over a referendum on the matter.

The Labour manifesto has reiterated its intention not to revisit the project, saying it will instead “develop a new major routes fund to improve the attractiveness and biodiversity of areas alongside major transport routes into Wales”. M4 relief road call to be renewed by Tories in Newport todayFirst Minister Mark Drakeford Plaid Cymru’s manifesto describes the relief road as a “costly and environmentally damaging proposal”, “which would displace many more worthy projects including public transport improvements throughout Wales”.

In their manifesto, the Welsh Liberal Democrats pledge to “build on the success of the Burns Commission, which provided localised solutions to the challenges faced along the M4 Corridor.” The Green Party opposes any plan to resurrect the relief road plans, vowing to “resist any attempts to reopen the proposals”. Ukip is supporting “a regional referendum on the M4 Relief Road”, and also proposes to review proposals for the ditched ‘blue route’ alternative to the planned ‘black route’.

The Reform Party calls the decision not to proceed with the road “a colossal failure for Wales” and has stated it will proceed with it, if in government here after May 6.

The Abolish the Assembly party states in its manifesto that the relief road should be “built as quickly as possible”.

Propel’s ‘contract with Wales’ does not mention the relief road but proposes a Planning for Wales Act to upgrade the strategic road network and create a North-South National Expressway.