M4 artery needs life-changing surgery to avoid arresting development

M4 around Newport plays major role in shaping people's perception of visiting and doing business in Wales

27 January 2016

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The strategic plan for the £1bn M4 Corridor around Newport was announced by the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport in July 2014. The preferred route joins the existing M4 at junctions 23 and 29 and includes two proposed new junctions, one at Glan Llyn, to serve housing development, a business park and Llanwern railway station – to connect to the proposed Cardiff Capital Region Metro; and another at the Docks Way junction to connect to the A48 Southern Distributor Road and provide access to central Newport and the docks. There will also be a 2.5km cable-stayed viaduct crossing of the River Usk. Ben Bolton, Director of Business Space comments: “The M4 around Newport is a constant source of frustration to commuters and businesses entering or leaving South Wales.

“Very slow moving traffic or long delays are a regular feature along the pinch points where the motorway reduces to two lanes and the bottleneck at the Bryn Glas tunnels. One accident can bring everything to a complete halt and there is no real alternative route.

“South Wales needs fast, free-flowing and reliable transport links if the region is to remain economically attractive alongside competitive neighbours such as Bristol. As the main gateway to the proposed City Region, the M4 around Newport plays a major role in shaping people’s perception of visiting Wales or doing business in Wales. This perception ultimately has an effect on jobs, tourism and the economy.

“Prolonged procrastination over the project for many years has not helped. There is an argument that it could start to affect property prices as people exercise caution until the exact route of the relief road is agreed upon. Investors keep a keen eye on infrastructure proposals and developments when making decisions about where to put their money, and businesses in the region need the road to improve access to national and international markets, and to help them to plan for the future.

“We need clarity on the scheme and certainty that it will be delivered soon. It is therefore incumbent upon us all now to give positive representation as a region and to show our support for the scheme where possible.”  

Publication of Draft Statutory Orders and an Environmental Statement will be published in Spring 2016. These will set out the land that will be required to build the scheme, along with environmental mitigation work, and the public will have the opportunity to make representations or suggest alternatives. It is expected that a Public Local Inquiry will be held in Autumn 2016 by an independent inspector, who will hear evidence and then make a recommendation to the Welsh Ministers, who in turn will decide whether to make Statutory Orders to press ahead, in Autumn 2017. Depending on the outcome, work could commence in spring 2018. Construction is likely to take about three years to complete.