A new report published today by the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe shows how Wales could transform its transport system by investing in public transport, active travel and ensuring delivery of all phases of the South Wales Metro with the £1.4bn currently earmarked for the M4 Black Route.

‘Transport Fit for Future Generations’ written in partnership with the Centre for Transport and Society (CTS), University of the West of England, Sustrans and New Economics Foundation illustrates, with practical examples, how a sustainable transport system could be designed for any part of Wales. 

 Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales says: 

 “Wales has a choice to make. It must choose whether to spend £1.4 billion on building a 14-mile section of M4 motorway, or to invest in alternative sustainable transport infrastructure that’s fit for future generations, that Wales and the world can be proud of. 

 “Welsh Government’s obsession at addressing 21st century transport issues with 20th century solutions must not continue. The Black Route fails to consider future trends and does not reflect the ambition or intention of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. 

 “We offer a package of integrated transport solutions as an alternative to travelling by car, to help solve congestion around Newport but can be transposed to any part of Wales, to make a better contribution to Wales’ well-being goals. We set out 3 case study ideas of public transport schemes to complement the South Wales Metro at a cost of approximately £460m. This could be accompanied by additional active travel measures (in the 3 local authorities) at a cost of £118m. 

 “The total cost of our package would be approximately £578m, delivering an integrated system of public transport and active travel infrastructure to complement the planned Metro phases 2 and 3, at a fraction of the proposed £1.4bn investment on the Black Route. 

 “Our findings show that the South Wales Metro, if fully realised, represents an excellent foundation for further development of an integrated, attractive, accessible, and realistic transport system in south Wales. 

 “The Public Inquiry has narrowly focussed on solutions for road travel and not considered any other alternative options. Our report highlights evidence around how building roads does not solve congestion and will result in Wales failing to decrease its carbon emission and missing the Government’s own targets of 80% reduction by 2050. 

 “The report highlights that despite the large and consistent body of evidence, successive governments, and the bodies that advise them, have repeatedly found it convenient to forget or deny that new roads generate more traffic independently of changes arising from growth in population or the economy. 

 “If we are choosing to spend such a vast amount of public money on a project we need to be certain that the money we are borrowing will positively contribute to the social, environmental, economic and cultural well-being of our future generations. I am not satisfied that Welsh Government or others have been able to provide such evidence.  

 “The findings of this report clearly justify a reasonable cause for a review and re-appraisal of Welsh Government’s M4 Black Route proposal.” 

Overview of findings and recommendations: 

  • There are limitations to modelling undertaken by the Welsh Government 
  • The Black Route would exacerbate many of the societal and environmental challenges facing Wales 
  • The Black Route is weak on the criteria set out in the Well-being of Future Generations Act 

 Statistics: 

  • Building the Black Route will result in an emission of 500,000+ tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents which will not be removed from the atmosphere until at least 2072
  • 24% of households in Wales did not own a car 2011/12
  • Expanding the investment programme in Active Travel out to the whole Cardiff Capital Region would cost approx. £290 million but would result in economic benefits of £2.5bn over 20 years, delivering a 19% and 82% increase in walking and cycling trips respectively
  • A similar level of increase could be delivered across the whole of Wales with an investment of £600m, delivering £5bn of benefits over 20 years