Conservative opposition in Vale of Glamorgan welcomes scrapping of M4 to A48 road
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
The Vale of Glamorgan council has formally cancelled its plans to build a controversial road linking the M4 with the A48.
The road would have linked Junction 34 of the M4 with Sycamore Cross on the A48. Last week the Welsh Government announced it would no longer fund the road.
The decision to scrap funding for the project came off the back of a major new Welsh transport strategy, with more focus on cycling, walking and public transport.
After the announcement, campaigners and opposition councillors called on the Vale council to confirm it was dropping the plans. The council announced on Monday, March 22, it would.
The council had said the road was needed to improve connectivity across the region, including to Cardiff Airport and the St Athan enterprise zone. £413,000 has already been spent on consultants planning where the road would be built.
Councillor Vincent Bailey, leader of the Conservative group on the Vale council, said: “The Welsh Government has finally listened to campaigners, and acknowledged the strength of local opposition to this harmful scheme.
“The Vale council should now confirm that the plans are being permanently scrapped, so that the local community can finally put this horror show behind them and move on.
“Anyone who knows the local area knows that these plans would have decimated Pendoylan and neighbouring villages, causing irreversible harm to the local countryside.”
A spokesman for the Vale Communities for Future Generations said: “The council has repeatedly ignored concerns that have been raised, and has appeared determined to bulldoze through their proposal to build this road come what may.
“It is shocking that so much public money has been wasted on these flawed road studies when there are so many individuals, businesses and Vale of Glamorgan council services which need support in these challenging times.
“The emotional impact and potential blight on those living in the Ely Valley cannot be understated. Residents have been living in a damaging state of limbo for almost four years.
“The Vale of Glamorgan council must now recognise that closure is necessary, and formally and publicly recognise that plans for a new road through the Ely Valley are no longer supported by the Welsh Government.”
The council said all funding for the studies so far on the road came from the Welsh Government, not the Vale council. Much of the studies focused on the environmental impact, which would have included chopping down ancient woodlands.
Changing work and commuting patterns from coronavirus, and the climate emergency and need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions were also factored into the most recent analysis. The council is now looking more broadly at how to reduce carbon emissions across the Vale.
Cllr Peter King, cabinet member for transport, said: “We appreciate the sensitivities around the scheme and the need to balance a range of issues and impacts — that is why the studies have been in depth and the consultation wide ranging.
“As part of this process, much work and analysis has already been undertaken on the potential environmental impacts on the proposal.
“We are, however, fully aware of the changing and developing situation as a result of Covid and also particularly the urgency of the climate change agenda. The council’s cabinet today considered a report on Project Zero, which sets out our approach to climate change following the council’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019.
“It was on this basis that, rather than simply progressing to the next stage, we wanted to assess the ongoing relevance and appropriateness of the scheme in the current context. The bid was to consider the implications of Covid on the scheme, given that we now know people have different travel patterns and the world of work is changing.
“The bid also looked into implications on the climate change agenda and the need to focus on active travel. That bid has been rejected, which is an indication that the Welsh Government has already decided that the scheme is no longer as relevant as it was when we embarked on the project a number of years ago.
“As a consequence of the recent outcome from the Welsh Government on the bid process, the scheme will no longer be progressed.”