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A Road too far

This is an article for South Wales Evening Post and Glamorgan Gazette.

The decision by the Welsh Government to choose the most expensive route for an M4 extension around Newport has been universally condemned, even by those who believe that building roads are an answer to traffic congestion.

Although, there is a consensus that something needs to be done to deal with problems around the Brynglas tunnels, the chosen route is not just the most expensive but also the most environmentally damaging.


Environmental concerns were raised during the consultation process by Friends of the Earth, the RSPB and Sustrans, and economic concerns were raised by the Federation of Small Businesses amongst others.


The Welsh Liberal Democrats prefer the 'blue route', which is the redevelopment of the A48 Southern Distributor Road and A4810 Steelworks Access Road. It is the clear recommendation of transport experts such as Professor Stuart Cole of the University of Glamorgan.


There are huge questions surrounding the economic benefit of this by-pass. Investing the Welsh Government's entire borrowing powers into one single road leaves no money left for other transport projects like the South Wales Metro, which can provide much greater economic benefit for the whole area.


At a time when the Welsh Government has published a bill on sustainable development their adherence to this new road is puzzling, as is their continued championing of a highly subsidised North Wales air route.


Passenger numbers on the Cardiff-Anglesey air route have fallen by 43% since their peak in 2009. It has cost the taxpayer around £86 in subsidy for every one of the 65,073 passengers which used the service between May 2007 and April 2013.


Yet it does little to address the real problems of public transport links between north and south Wales. When will the Welsh Labour Government learn?



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