Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Scathing Criticism from Freight and Road Haulage Interests at Welsh Government M4 Plans

(Or Rather the Lack of Them)
Shipping News Feature

UK – It seems there was nothing good to say about the Welsh Government's 'Fast Track' recommendations as published by the South East Wales Transport Commission this week, which seemingly buried the idea of an M4 relief road and thus released a torrent of scorn from freight and road haulage professionals.

In a ‘Jam Tomorrow’ statement issued by the Chair of the Commission Lord Burns, the short termism of the proposals stood out starkly, with him even admitting that their effects would be ‘modest’. He said:

”I wholeheartedly recognise the scale and importance of the task to improve acute transport issues within the region. Our aim as a Commission is to recommend a set of measures which will improve transport in a sustainable way that supports the wider well-being of people who live, work and travel in South East Wales.

”The recommendations in this initial report are measures that can be swiftly implemented. I believe they will have a modest but noticeable effect on alleviating congestion on the M4. Our longer-term recommendations will encompass a much wider set of measures, relating to bus, rail, active travel, road improvement, governance and wider policies.”

The effect of his words brought swift retorts from both the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) with the RHA calling the plans ‘hopelessly inadequate’. Longer term measures are set to focus on ‘alternative transport modes’ but the RHA believes they won’t tackle crippling bottlenecks around Newport and the Brynglas Tunnels and regional operations manager, Rhys Williams said that the Welsh Government must reinstate plans for the relief road if it’s serious about unlocking Wales’ potential, continuing:

“Congestion on the M4 brings misery to local people and road users every day; it’s strangling the Welsh economy and holding up growth in firms who desperately need a fit-for-purpose road network to move people and goods efficiently. We believe that Wales deserves better, but nothing will change until the Welsh Government stops tinkering around the edges and commits to building 21st century infrastructure to make it happen.”

FTA’s Head of Welsh Policy, Sally Gilson was no more enthusiastic about the announcement and spoke up immediately, saying:

“The initial recommendations made by the Commission are totally inadequate and will not provide a sufficient, long-term solution to congestion along this crucial route. Vital to the Welsh economy, the M4 is a key lifeline to businesses across south Wales and any proposal to counter congestion in this stretch should not be considered as a local issue.

”The FTA reiterates its calls to the Welsh Government to build a Newport relief road which would provide a long-term solution to alleviating the pressure along this crucial trade corridor.”