Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure
This statement informs members of a delay to the M4 Corridor around Newport Public Local Inquiry as a direct result of actions taken by the UK Government.
The Department for Transport have, without consultation, introduced revised methodology to their new forecasting for traffic growth, referred to as TEMPRO 7. In order to ensure that decisions on the M4 Project are based upon the most accurate, robust and up-to-date information I must now allow sufficient time for a review of reporting that supports the published proposals issued in March 2016 to be carried out.
Dependent on the outcome of my review, the inquiry, which was due to commence on 1 November, will start no later than 31 March next year. In the interests of fairness and transparency, reporting on this matter will be shared with all stakeholders as soon as reasonably possible.
This written statement is published now to notify stakeholders as soon as possible before the planned inquiry date. An oral statement with further information shall follow.
I would expect an Inquiry to last around five months. It would examine all aspects of the M4 Project, as well as all suggested alternatives.
I am well aware of the views of those opposed to the project. The Inquiry would allow these views to be heard, and outside of that process I am keen to explore all opportunities for reducing negative impacts and maximising cross-cutting benefits of this major investment for Wales.
The UK Government has already expressed its desire to see work on the M4 Project start as soon as possible, so it is hugely disappointing that the Department for Transport failed to engage with us on these revisions before they were introduced forcing this regrettable delay.
Whilst we push forward with our Metro plans for north and south Wales, the long standing and continued problems associated with the M4 around Newport need a solution that delivers a long term, integrated and sustainable transport system.
Assessments to date indicate that our proposed M4 Project is the only reasonable solution, but it is only right and proper that the proposals are tested in light of the most up-to-date information available to ensure that we deliver the right choice for the people in Wales.
We have made a strong commitment to deliver a sustainable, long term solution to the chronic traffic problems on this stretch of the M4. Subject to my review and inquiry approval, the M4 Corridor around Newport Project can still be completed in 2021.