A DECISION to construct the £350M M4 relief road in South Wales could result in the project becoming, 'the Welsh Twyford Down', road protesters warned this week.
Transport Minister for Wales Peter Hain last week announced that the controversial project, the largest in the UK roads programme, would be reviewed but not cancelled.
He said: 'The road is a busy economic artery and traffic congestion is worsening, but the new road would go through a very environmentally sensitive area and we must carefully consider if investment in public transport might be a better way forward.'
The 23km road should relieve congestion on the M4 around Newport by providing an alternative route to Cardiff running alongside the Severn Estuary. The elevated route across the Gwent Levels marshlands increases the cost and controversy.
Local protesters had hoped the scheme would be cancelled as part of the review of the Welsh roads programme.
They have now promised to fight any parts of the project which damage the Levels.
Hain also made special mention of the proposals to dual the A40 west from St Clears to
Haverfordwest, saying: 'I believe there is a strong case on economic grounds, but we need a full appraisal before committing ourselves.'
The M4 and A40 are two of 11 Welsh schemes to be have been deferred (see table). Four projects have been given the go-ahead, including the £178M dualling of the A465 between Abergavenny and Hirwaun, while six have been dropped.
The Welsh Office claimed that it would seek to persuade employers to develop 'green transport plans', and would itself be 'leading from the front on car sharing.' Launching the country's transport White Paper last week, Hain said the Government would encourage employers and local authorities 'to introduce car sharing arrangements and traffic management measures such as high occupancy vehicle lanes in congested areas'.