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M4 Relief Road project heads for public inquiry

Words: Roger Milne
Edwina Hart

The controversial £1 billion M4 Relief Road project looks set for a public inquiry over the winter of 2016/17, Welsh transport minister Edwina Hart has signalled.

That prospect was highlighted in a letter from the minister quoted during a Welsh Assembly debate on the project this week.

“Given the level of interest in the scheme and the range of views being expressed, I anticipate that there would be a public local inquiry into the proposals following the publication of the required draft statutory orders.

“Publication is anticipated in spring 2016,” she wrote, adding: “If objections are received to the published proposals, an independent inspector would be appointed to conduct the inquiry in winter 2016/17.”

Earlier this year Hart said the government would press ahead with a highly controversial option for a new motorway to relieve a bottleneck on the M4 around Newport.

At issue is the administration’s decision to opt for the so-called “black route” for the new stretch of motorway between Magor and Castleton which would involve building across the Gwent Levels wetlands.

The decision has incensed opposition parties and green groups who claim it ignored environmental and economic concerns. Many favour proposals to upgrade the A48 Southern Distributor road at a third of the cost.

Image courtesy of the National Assembly for Wales