Monday, July 20, 2009

Fish Halts Motorway Scheme

M4 plan suspended due to environmental issue
Shipping News Feature

WALES - The controversy over the M4 relief road seems finally to have ended due to the increase in costs of the scheme and…………a fish.

The Twaite Shad, a species protected by European environmental law, is present in the waters of the Gwent Levels, an area of Special scientific Interest (SSI). To avoid controversy over the issue the Government, in the form of Ieuan Wyn Jones, Welsh Deputy First Minister and Minister for Economy and Transport, has announced the cancellation of the plan, despite the lobbying of business groups complaining against the persistent congestion on the Motorway. The Government intends to upgrade the surrounding road network to accommodate the ever increasing traffic flow.

 The minister cited price as the principal reason for the cancellation. To afford the spiralling costs it had been planned to introduce a PFI scheme with tolls chargeable on the new road. The experience of the M6 toll stretch however prompted a change of heart. Drivers tend to avoid the private stretch of road and the M4 scheme would have had to include a provision to pay on both the new road and the motorway itself to make the scheme viable. This would mean drivers paying twice when entering Wales as the Severn tolls would remain in place.

The Minister said the Government would now “encourage local drivers not to use the motorway”. The new plans also include upgrading surrounding roads and opening the hitherto private dual carriageway passing through the Corus Llanwern site to public access.

No shad were available for comment.