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Not building M4 relief road is causing more pollution, Tory MP suggests

16 Jul 2021 3 minutes Read
Jamie Wallis. Picture by BBC Parliament

The Welsh Government’s decision not to build the M4 relief road is leading to more air pollution, a Tory MP has suggested.

Jamie Wallis, who represents Bridgend, criticised Welsh ministers for scrapping the plan for the 14-mile motorway to tackle the congestion faced by motorists around Newport.

He made the claim in a debate on climate change in the House of Commons, in which he called the move “reprehensible”.

Wallis also said that building the road would “help with the levels of pollution around Newport”.

This is despite Friends of the Earth Cymru backing the decision to scrap the plan for the road at the time it was made, with director Haf Elgar saying: “This is great news for Wales and the planet.

“As well as costing Welsh taxpayers over £2bn, this devastating road would have ploughed through the unique, wildlife-rich Gwent Levels, pumped more climate-wrecking emissions into our atmosphere, and ultimately caused even more congestion and air pollution.”

Welsh Government rejected the plans to build the relief road in 2019 citing the cost, and impact on the environment.

The UK Prime Minister has previously threatened to overrule the Welsh Government on the issue and build over the Gwent Levels.

Jamie Wallis said: “The UK Government and the devolved Administrations have to work together to implement measures that will combat climate change.

“In my constituency of Bridgend, an increasing number of residents are contacting me about air pollution, which concerns them a lot.

“They are worried about high levels of pollution outside schools, in particular from idling vehicles.

“They fear that that can be a cause and aggravating factor of many respiratory diseases and action is needed.

“With little thought for wider infrastructure to support communities and a lack of investment in safe routes to schools, the local authority in Bridgend aids that growing epidemic of idling vehicles and worsens the pollution around our schools.

‘Welsh colleagues’ 

He added: “It is reprehensible that our Welsh colleagues in Cardiff Bay have halted plans for the M4 relief road to ease congestion in south Wales.

“That would also help with the levels of pollution around Newport. We agree with the Welsh Government that decarbonising the transport sector presents a key challenge to overcome to reach net zero, but rather than halting the development of necessary infrastructure, the UK Government’s vision for a net zero Wales includes accelerating the shift to zero-emission vehicles.

“Electric vehicle infrastructure funding schemes such as the on-street residential charge point scheme, the electric vehicle home charging scheme and the workplace charging scheme are examples of the Government helping to achieve 100% zero-emission cars and vans by 2035.”

Mark Drakeford has previously said: “I’ve made my decision and it is an entirely devolved decision. The Prime Minister has no say in the M4 Relief Road whatsoever. It is not the way the system works.”

If forced upon the Welsh Government he said: “Then you’re talking about very big changes indeed and a Prime Minister that would launch an assault on devolution… the way devolution works is the money comes to the Welsh Government and it is then for the National Assembly of Wales to decide how the money is spent, not for a Prime Minister in London.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
3 months ago

What a plonker!

Vance
Vance
3 months ago

As someone who is regularly stuck in the traffic jams on the m4 for hours at a time, won’t we still be stuck in the same jams when we all have to drive electric vehicles?
If pollution is such a problem why do they still allow residential development next to the m4. Just a couple of questions that no one in government seem to want to address

Bruce
Bruce
3 months ago

The fat ‘ole perv hath spoken!

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
3 months ago
Reply to  Bruce

How dare you! He’s only 37.

Quornby
Quornby
3 months ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

He’s six from the neck up.

Bruce
Bruce
3 months ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

Is that his weight or his age?

Chris
Chris
3 months ago

I never saw the figures regarding pollution. But having been stuck in traffic nearly every time I have (tried to pass through) Newport, it seems evident that several thousand idling cars cars in traffic queues for an average of 4 hours every day, is contributing a lot to pollution. I don’t know how long any bypassing of Newport would need to be used in order to pay off the construction pollution, but I reckon it would be fewer than 5 years. It might even prove of benefit to the wildlife the opposers to it say they want to portect. Animals… Read more »

Mandi A
Mandi A
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Like Roberts of Delyn, has to be removed. Well done for pointing out how much pollution and disruption the roadworks would generate. Good old PFI, we would be paying for generations, and London would tell us as it was a devolved decision, Wales can pay out of their newly devolved tax raising powers. Be careful what you wish for.

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Mandi A

Yes, despite significant advancements construction, especially major Civil Engineering, is temporarily disruptive and polluting. Perhaps we should stop building houses and infrastructure altogether and instead just walk barefoot (no shoe manufacture) along muddy preference paths to our pollution free woody encampments (no housebuilding) where we forage for food (no food deliveries and no nature destroying farms).
I mean that would save us money. But of course money would not be worth anything

Last edited 3 months ago by Chris
Huw Davies
Huw Davies
3 months ago
Reply to  Mandi A

Worth watching the original version of Bedazzled (Peter Cook as the devil) to see the pitfalls of making agreements with the devil!

Lolly Mountjoy
Lolly Mountjoy
3 months ago

He does realise Newport isn’t inBridgend doesn’t he

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Lolly Mountjoy

Probably thinking of the most efficient way to distribute porn, or to link up his sugar daddy clients with the “boys and girls” he has procured for them

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
3 months ago

Not entirely sure on this. I’m looking at a car change now mine is over 6 years old so I’ve been ‘researching’ a bit. Some of the new hybrids will switch to electric power at low speeds, even the mild hybrids will do a mile or two crawling along. This will eventually reduce pollution levels in slow moving traffic as pure petrol/diesel cars become a smaller percentage. In Port Talbot they introduced an extended 50mph section with the message it is to reduce pollution levels. I was hoping to see some real life figures on the levels along the 50mph… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
3 months ago

The answer is not another polluting road through a nature area it’s to 1/ get people out of their cars and onto public transport (not helped by Tory cuts over the last ten years) and 2/ replacing combustion vehicles with electric vehicles quicker.

Nick Randall-Smith
Nick Randall-Smith
3 months ago

For someone with a higher science degree (which Jamie Wallis claims to have) to say that the long term answer to pollution is more roads makes me wonder whether the poor chap is suffering from oxygen starvation caused by his Union Flag face mask. Mr Wallis go outside take your mask off and breath deeply for five minutes, you may become less confused (hopefully).

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
3 months ago

W.pedia says he has a doctorate in Astrobiology. His research was into cometary panspermia, living objects being scattered through the universe via comets, meteorites, space dust etc.. Seems like he made the wrong career choice somewhere. He would have been a perfect replacement for Patrick Moore!

Shan Morgain
3 months ago

The alternative plan which was decided means huge investment in new train stations and rail links between Bristol and Cardiff. The Tory minister can relax knowing that road traffic will be reduced. (I live next to the M4 tunnel so I followed this process closely.)

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

So as much disruption and pollution as the bypass then? Brilliant if you want to go to one of the places that there are stops. Less so if you need to go somewhere that local public transport doesn’t often go. Don’t get me wrong. Total coverage by reliable public transport is the answer here. But we’ll never get that. Costs too much and takes too long (in that any politican who greenlighted it would get the early criticism but would be long gone by the time it was finished, so no personal glory means no innovative solution). To sort out… Read more »

Quornby
Quornby
3 months ago

He’ll doubtless agree that not electrifying the South Wales mainline is “reprehensible”.

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