Newport: Black Spot to Black Route!
This month The Planning Expert looks at the proposed Newport M4 bypass with emphasis on what we consider the only viable option.
China is completing 6000 miles of motorway building every year! Yes, you really did read that right. The country now has 88,000 miles of motorways which surpasses the interstate expressway system in the USA which has approximately 48,000 miles. The Chinese network whizzed past the USA in 2011! By comparison the UK has just over 2000 miles.
The clear economic benefit to China has meant that largely its people support the government in this expansion.
Under communist totalitarian rule it is much easier for current president Xi Ping to make a decision and just get on with it of course, which is one of the reasons that over the last 30 years China has become an economic powerhouse. No hanging about for endless committee meetings in Beijing. They decide whether it appears to benefit the nation and if the answer is yes they just do it regardless of cost or objections.
We are not advocating totalitarian rule of course, whether by right or left wing governments! We both totally believe in democracy and the right of people to vote. It is one reason why we believe that political parties should have their manifesto’s audited ‘before’ a general election or referendum and that should they fail to deliver on their promises the leaders of the ensuing government should be held accountable through the courts. It just isn’t good enough for them to say “Oh we now find we can’t afford what we said we could”. Try that with your car payments!
Anyway our point here is that sometimes, just sometimes, we have to get on with things that benefit the wider community regardless of some important issues that are against it.
In the case of the proposed black route around Newport in Wales these objections are focused on environmental issues. As we both generally support such issues it isn’t without much thought that we support the proposed bypass.
The cost to the environment of huge queues developing along the M4 approach to the Newport Tunnels is impacting the environment already. Alleviating this problem is of paramount importance for the welsh economy and the environment.
We travel frequently from Bristol to Newport and on to Cardiff and Swansea by both car and train but since the Severn Bridge tolls were removed the problem of huge traffic tailbacks has got much worse.
The Welsh government is spending billions in an attempt to make Wales an economic powerhouse but much of that effort is being choked off at the Newport Tunnels.
With the important development of The International Convention Centre at Celtic Manor, just off the M4, the proposed bypass has become urgent and can no longer be kicked into the long grass. It’s time to deliver it.
We spoke with a potential manufacturer last week about the potential of building a new 58,000 sq ft factory in Newport. He visited and spent over two hours caught up in rush hour tailbacks. His decision? Build near Swindon which has a better flowing traffic profile and great access to all UK destinations, international ports, and railways. Rarely have we been caught in tailbacks at Swindon so we can see his point.
Newport has much to offer. It is located right on the M4 which is both its future and its nemesis! It also has a fast rail link to London and many other important destinations. But rail isn’t the only long term answer. It’s is important of course, as is development of the Metro system but an integrated and long term transport policy will certainly need to include an expanded road network too.
Building the black route bypass would help through traffic get on its way between the two economic powerhouse cities of Bristol in the east and Cardiff in the west and allow cars, lorries & vans and coaches to get to Newport destinations easier. It would also allow commuters from the valley towns to get to and from work without spending hours in the car wasting fuel sitting in traffic jams.
Newport with its current population of around 140,000 is expanding hugely and by not getting on with building the bypass this will eventually be stifled.
Granted City status in 2002 it is time to allow this important growing City to expand into itself by assisting with provision of a modern motorway bypass that will allow its residents to breath a sigh of relief that should they just want to pop over to Cumbrian, Caldicot or Chepstow, that they will not face three hours in the car instead of twenty minutes.
The Planning Expert, May 2019
The Planning Expert is published monthly & is written alternately by Stephen & Leon Fear.