Does the scrapping of the M4 relief road on green grounds spell trouble for future projects?

The decision by the first minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, to scrap plans for a new motorway south of Newport to ease congestion on the M4 is remarkable for two reasons – first, he went against the recommendation of the planning inspector, and second he cited environmental grounds, both the impact on the wildlife of the Gwent Levels and the climate emergency, as reasons for doing so.

But whether this means it will have ramifications for future infrastructure projects is open to question. Andrew Allen, head of policy and research for the Campaign for Better Transport, is unsure. “We have been around various road protests for many years, and these are always very cyclical,” he said. “There’s always a hardcore of activists, but widespread public concern ebbs and flows.”

The last major road scheme to get the thumbs-down at this stage, he recalled, was the Hastings bypass, and that was down to then transport secretary Stephen Byers, way back in 2001.

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