1 November 2016
Pippa Bartolotti, former leader of the Wales Green Party who lives in Newport, responded to the M4 Public Inquiry.
Bartolotti submitted several Freedom of Information requests in order to gain full insight of data used to back up the Welsh Government’s M4 project. She said she was disappointed that the information provided by the Welsh Government excluded any notion of alternative plans to solve transport issues in and around Newport, such as South Wales Metro.
Bartolotti is concerned that the M4 project is given priority status over the South Wales Metro. She said: “The Welsh Government has identified the South Wales Metro as its flagship infrastructure project for the next decade. Both the economic and environmental benefits of introducing an extensive light rail network to South Wales are significant. This project should receive prioritisation over the M4 extension. Last week, Economy Secretary Ken Skates suggested that the metro project could be under threat because of Brexit. There is unlikely to be enough cash for both the Metro and the M4 extension, and with the lack of any guarantees from the UK government to provide enough funding to replace EU funding long term, there is a real possibility that the metro project will be left behind. This would have lasting consequences to the local economy, the ecology of the Gwent levels, and employment.” The Welsh Government has previously stated that the planned M4 corridor around Newport would make it easier and safer for people to access their homes, workplaces and services by walking, cycling or public transport.
In her response to the inquiry, Bartolotti highlighted that this claim was simply not realistic. She said: “the proposed M4 will not provide public transport, cycleways or footpaths and represents a failure to provide a save transit. The simplest, cheapest and healthiest solution to congestion is the metro, which is blocked by a misplaced assertion that more cars on the road will solve congestion problems. The South Wales Metro will deliver a viable public transport solution which will be safer, faster and cleaner than road travel, with the capacity to expand with demand.”
Welsh Government has also stated that the new M4 corridor will make a positive contribution to the over-arching goals of the Welsh Government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will make Wales more resilient to the effects of climate change.
Bartolotti said: These aims will not be met by the proposed M4. Increased traffic has a negative effect on the environment, on the health of people and will increase greenhouse gases. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is unprecedented in its emphasis on how an urgent and rapid transition away from fossil fuels is crucial in order to avoid dangerous climate change. A truly sustainable transport network would be frequent, affordable and clean. The proposed M4 upgrade does not correspond with any of these requirements.”