AN INQUIRY into the planned M4 Corridor around Newport, or relief road, is to be held later this year.

Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates announced yesterday (21st June) that an independent public inquiry into the scheme will begin in autumn 2016. The £1.2 billion project involves a new stretch of motorway running through Magor Marsh, bypassing Newport and the Brynglas Tunnels.

Mr Skates said: “This independent inquiry will set out the proposals for the M4 Corridor around Newport project in a public forum. It will allow open and transparent scrutiny and provide vital feedback to inform a final decision on whether to proceed to construction.  

“Alongside infrastructure improvements to the North, Mid and West Wales, the M4 project and the Metro are hugely important to our vision for an efficient, integrated transport system for Wales and I’m very pleased to have been able to move forward so quickly with this.”

The route, which would create a six-lane motorway running from the current Junction 23A Magor to Junction 29 at Castleton, is expected to cost in excess of £1 billion, with an estimated cost of £92 million for land and compensation. Details of buildings due to be demolished to make way for the M4 relief road’s proposed black route’ were released earlier this year.

Concerns have been raised from environmentalists and business owners about the proposed ‘black route’, with objections being lodged about the suitability of the route and the effect on businesses including the motorway services at Magor.

As part of the inquiry, an alternative ‘blue route’ incorporating the existing M4 and A48 will be discussed which has been backed by environmental groups. There will also be discussions about keeping the existing M4 route.

Commenting on the announcement, Russell George, Welsh Conservative Shadow Spokesperson for Economy, Transport and Sport, said: “I welcome the Economy Secretary’s plans for a public enquiry, and the spirit of transparency in which he has assured it will be conducted.

“It is however vital that the relief road forms part of a national infrastructure plan and that it integrates seamlessly into other transport links.

“All options must now be exhaustively explored as quickly as possible so that a swift resolution can be reached and the project can be moved forward.”