The Plaid driven One Wales Government’s new national transport plan which will bring sustainable benefit to current residents of Wales but also many generations yet to come, is a step towards a sustainable transport policy. We should welcome the decision to make effective use of public funding, and economic and environmental needs when forming the new national plan, which includes measures to improve the use of the transport infrastructure around the Newport area in order to alleviate congestion on the M4.
Many people have long argued that the proposed M4 relief road over the Gwent levels was never going to be a sensible or sustainable option on both environmental and financial grounds. The project would have caused irreversible environmental damage and substantially increase carbon dioxide emissions.
On financial grounds, the projected cost of the scheme had soared to an estimated £1billion. Funding a billion pound project, at a time when our government is being told its budget will be cut by both of the parties which could form the next government in Westminster, would been an impossible undertaking.
The National Transport Plan is a vital step towards developing our national transport infrastructure in a sensible, sustainable and costed way , which actually takes the cost for future generations into account. It is important that environmental considerations not be sacrificed for short term gain. Careful consideration needs to be given to the fact that we don’t want to burden future generations with projects that can’t be afforded and will fail to deliver any real medium or long term benefits.
Public transport in Wales is in dire need of further investment, so news that some more funding will be going into sustainable transport is excellent news. The Assembly’s Sustainability Committee in 2007 noted that less than one-third of transport funding was being spent on sustainable and public transport in Wales, which compared with 70 per cent in Scotland.
The decision’s made today to spend more money on rail and other forms of sustainable transport will help to redress that imbalance. This is a well thought out balanced plan, not only in environmental and economic terms, but also in terms of the needs of people and business throughout the whole of Wales.