First Minister Mark Drakeford’s decision is the latest hit to the Welsh infrastructure pipeline

M4 relief road shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

The M4 passes through tunnels around Newport

The Welsh government has shelved plans to build the £1.4bn M4 relief road despite a public inquiry backing the project.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed he will not allocate funds to the scheme, which would have seen a new stretch of six-lane motorway built to the south of Newport.

The road was the largest pending infrastructure project in Wales following Hitachi’s decision to postpone development of new nuclear power stations at Wylfa Newydd.

And it received the backing of Bill Waldrup, a planning inspector who led a public inquiry into the proposal and found the scheme would provide “at least sound” and probably “good” value for money.

The CBI has said the decision marks a “dark day for the Welsh economy” while Mark Bodger, the CITB’s Wales’ Partnerships director, admitted: “The M4 relief road would have led to a considerable increase in construction jobs in Wales, with valuable opportunities for skills and training.”

But in an open letter explaining his decision, Drakeford said he had decided the cost was unacceptable given the “uncertainty as to the financial position of the Welsh government” and the other demands and potential demands on its capital budget.

He also said he attached “very significant weight” to the “substantial adverse impact” the road would have on the Gwent Levels waterways, a swathe of coastal wetland home to a number of rare and endangered animals which the relief road, designed to ease congestion around the bottleneck of the Brynglas Tunnels, would have crossed.