Future Generations Commissioner for Wales welcomes ‘brave decision by First Minister on the M4 Relief Road
Following the First Minister, Mark Drakeford’s decision earlier today to reject the building of the M4 Relief Road, Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner said:
“ I welcome today’s announcement by the First Minister and pleased that the Welsh Government has taken into consideration the needs of our current and future generations and ensured the protection of our wildlife and environment.
“I raised serious concerns that the Black Route proposal was a short-term, 20th century solution that did not reflect or support the ambitions of the Well-being of Future Generations Act which requires our public bodies, including the Welsh Government, to think and take action in the long term interests of Wales.
“The challenges facing Wales and the world including climate change, nature loss, long term health problems and poverty must all be considered when deciding where significant investment is made. The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act requires us to look at new ways of addressing all of these issues and whilst much has been made of the suggested economic benefits of a new road the definition of a Prosperous Wales set out in law in Wales is ‘an innovative, productive and low carbon society which recognises the limits of the global environment & uses resources efficiently and proportionately, and which develops a skilled and well-educated population in an economy which generates wealth and provides employment opportunities.’
“The role of transport in stimulating growth is not as clear-cut as made our by some; numerous reports have found very little evidence linking road building or road improvement schemes to access jobs or job creation, and although road projects can positively impact local employment effects are not always positive and a majority of evaluations show no (or mixed) effects on employment.
“I welcome the First Ministers announcement of a commission to consider solutions to the issues of congestion around Newport and I would like everyone, from the business, environment and transport sector and local people and their representatives to work together towards a long-term vision and solution that sends a clear message to the world, that we are leaders in sustainable development and take the duties and obligations of our ground-breaking Act seriously.
“We need to seek solutions that make the biggest contribution to improving our health, to improving the economic prospects of all our communities, to meeting our obligations on climate change and to maintaining and enhancing nature. I am keen to help formulate policies and interventions which are in the interest of the future generations I champion.”