Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, has confirmed that plans to build a relief road for the M4 have been cancelled. The plan would have helped to have alleviated congestion around Newport, but there were concerns about the impact to the environment.
In a statement Drakeford said:
“In my judgement the Project’s adverse impacts on the environment, taken together with its other disadvantages, outweigh its advantages”.
“I do not consider that there is a compelling case in the public interest to expropriate the land that is subject to the CPOs and I do not consider that it would be appropriate or expedient to make the other Schemes and Orders.”
Ian Rappel, the Chief Executive of Gwent Wildlife Trust, said:
“We are delighted that the Welsh Government and Mr Drakeford have recognised that a new motorway would have been totally ecologically, socially and economically unsustainable for the people and wildlife of Wales. The Gwent Levels is like no other in the UK, it is vitally important to the well-being of not just wildlife but also people – it is green lungs of Newport and South Gwent. It should be cherished and showcased as a green leisure hub for Wales.”
Russell George, the Conservative Welsh Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire said:
“After years of procrastination and dithering from successive Welsh Labour Governments, £44 million spent on a public inquiry, and numerous pleas of help from business leaders, we’ve got nowhere. It’s shameful that the First Minister has poured millions of pounds down the drain in completing the inquiry, yet only to ignore its findings.
Congestion on this road is a foot on the windpipe of the South Wales economy, and is damaging our businesses and their future prospects. I’m now urging the First Minister to end the uncertainty and quickly give us an alternative to how he intends to alleviate congestion on the M4.”
David Lidington, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has confirmed that the UK Government has reached agreement with the Welsh Government on the European Union Withdrawal Bill. The Government has though still to reach agreement with the Scottish Government on the bill, although talks are expected to continue.
Lidington said in a statement:
“I am very pleased that the many months of detailed negotiation have got us to a point where we have now reached an agreement with the Welsh Government on changes to the Bill. This is a significant achievement that will provide legal certainty, increase the powers of the devolved governments and also respect the devolution settlements. The UK Government has made considerable changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill to address issues that have been raised in Parliament and by the devolved administrations
It is disappointing that the Scottish Government have not yet felt able to add their agreement to the new amendments that Ministers and officials on all sides have been working on very hard over recent weeks. I thank them for that effort and hope that they may still reconsider their position. All governments agree that it would be best for all parts of the UK if we had an agreed way forward on the EU Withdrawal Bill”.
Carl Sargeant, the Labour MP who was Welsh cabinet secretary for Communities and Children until his suspension last week, has been found dead. Sargeant had been suspended by Carwyn Jones, the Welsh First Minister, following a series of allegations about his personal life.
Sargeant’s family issued a statement saying:
“Carl was a much loved husband, father and friend. He wasn’t simply a part of our family. He was the glue that bound us together. He was the most kind and caring husband, father, son and friend. We are devastated beyond words, and we know our grief will be shared by all those who knew and loved him”.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, said on Twitter:
“I’m deeply shocked to hear of the terrible news about Carl Sargeant. My thoughts and profound sympathy are with his family and friends”.
The sitting of the Welsh Assembly that would have taken place this afternoon has been suspended as a mark of respect.