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Commissioner for Wales urges ministers to drop M4 project and invest in public transport

Words: Roger Milne
Invest in Welsh public transport / iStock-471568545

Wales could transform its transport system by investing active travel and in public transport – and delivering all phases of the South Wales Metro instead of spending £1.4 billion on a new section of the M4 motorway at Newport.

The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe, has branded the mooted M4 project an unambitious solution to transform the country's transport system.

Howe's challenge to the government’s motorway project is buttressed by a report written in partnership with the Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England, Sustrans and New Economics Foundation.

This illustrates, with practical examples, how a sustainable transport system could be designed for any part of Wales.  

Howe said: “Wales has a choice to make. It must choose whether to spend £1.4 billion on building a 14-mile section of M4 motorway [the so-called Black Route], or to invest in alternative sustainable transport infrastructure that’s fit for future generations, that Wales and the world can be proud of.

“Welsh Government’s obsession with addressing 21st century transport issues with 20th century solutions must not continue. The Black Route fails to consider future trends and does not reflect the ambition or intention of the Well-being of Future Generations Act.

“We offer a package of integrated transport solutions as an alternative to travelling by car, to help solve congestion around Newport but which can be transposed to any part of Wales, to make a better contribution to Wales’s well-being goals.”

A public inquiry into the planned M4 relief road ended in March after 83 days and is due to report back soon.

Business leaders have argued that congestion around the M4 Brynglas tunnels in Newport is strangling the local economy, which the Welsh Government said is a "pressing problem demanding a solution".

Howe added: “The inquiry has narrowly focused on solutions for road travel and not considered any other alternative options. Our report highlights evidence of how building roads does not solve congestion and will result in Wales failing to decrease its carbon emission and missing the government’s own targets of 80 per cent reduction by 2050.”

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