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M4 relief road cancelled after cost estimates rise to over £2 billion

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THE WELSH Government has ditched plans to build an M4 relief road.

After years of planning, a lengthy public inquiry, and extensive controversy both about the delays in making a decision and the potential environmental impact of the new road, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced his widely anticipated decision to cancel the project in a statement issued on Tuesday, June 4.

The M4 relief road was a marquee project for the Welsh Government; however, internal Labour politics slowed down progress towards a decision with the result that former First Minister Carwyn Jones passed the buck for the final decision to his successor. Mr Jones favoured the scheme, while Mr Drakeford was more equivocal about its prospects.

Originally proposed in 1991, the scheme was dropped by the Welsh Government in 2009 on grounds of cost (then an estimated £1bn) before being revived in 2011. The project secured UK Treasury support in 2013 and was approved by the then-Welsh Government Transport Minister Edwina Hart in 2014, with a completion date of 2022.

Since 2014, the road lingered in development hell through a raft of consultations and a public inquiry.

M4 decision: Drakeford slated for dither and delay

The First Minister’s decision to cancel the scheme raises questions about the huge amount of public money and government manpower expended on it. His principal objection is the same as that which led to the original scheme’s cancellation in 2009: money, or the Welsh Government lack of it/unwillingness to spend it.

Friends of the Earth Cymru director Haf Elgar said: “This is great news for Wales and the planet.

“As well as costing Welsh taxpayers over £2 billion pounds, this devastating road would have ploughed through the unique, wildlife-rich Gwent Levels, pumped more climate-wrecking emissions into our atmosphere, and ultimately caused even more congestion and air pollution.

“This decision is a testament to the untiring efforts of local residents who have opposed this plan over decades and is a clear signal that the Welsh Government is taking its climate emergency declaration and commitment to future generations seriously.”

Ian Price, CBI Wales Director, said: “This is a dark day for the Welsh economy. After decades of deliberation and over £40m spent, no problem has been solved today. Congestion and road pollution around Newport can only increase. Economic growth will be stifled, confidence in the region will weaken and the cost of an eventual relief road will rise

“Today’s announcement is a short-term measure that regrettably solves nothing and sends the message that Wales is not open for business.

“As the Welsh Government said at the public inquiry, the black route would emit less carbon emissions than the current road and the whole project would be carbon neutral by 2070. The wider south Wales region around Cardiff and Newport constitute only 4% of Welsh carbon emissions in total. That figure will now likely rise at a higher rate than if the black route had been built.”

On  his Facebook page, Stephen Crabb MP said: “They’ve bottled it. The Welsh First Minister’s decision not to give the M4 relief road the green light is short sighted and will be deeply frustrating for number of commuters, businesses and tourists.

“I’ve spoken to numerous Pembrokeshire businesses, from hauliers to tourism operators, who are all fully aware the damage the congestion around Newport does for our local economy. One Pembrokeshire haulage firm alone runs 40 lorries each way through the M4 bottle neck each day, with drivers calling it a ‘no go’ area between 7.30am and 10am in the morning and from 4pm to 6.30pm in the afternoon.

“This decision even contradicts the independent public enquiry led by a planning inspector which backed the project. This is a failure of devolution as the Welsh Assembly was supposed to help projects such as this get off the ground.

“I recently held a debate in Parliament about the importance of this project for the wider Welsh economy, so it is very disappointing that Mark Drakeford has dropped it especially as this issue has dragged on for nearly 30 years.”

Full in-depth coverage in The Herald this Friday

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Body of a man found in camper van near lifeboat station

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THE BODY of a male has been found in a camper van parked near Loughor lifeboat station, according to the police.

Officers said they were called at 1.41pm on Sunday afternoon (Jan 12).

Locals said that the van had been parked there since December 22.

Police said they were called to the scene after concern was raised about an abandoned vehicle.

A statement from a police spokesperson said: “The body of a man was located inside.”

It added that his death was not being treated as suspicious and the coroner had been informed.

Hayden Jones, who walks in the area regularly, said he spotted police and the ambulance service were in the area at 3.20pm yesterday.

He said: “We came from the direction of the bridge and police were stopping cars coming in. There was an ambulance there too.

“We didn’t see what was going on. We turned around.”

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New Starbucks Drive Thru store opens in Llanelli

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A NEW Starbucks Drive Thru store opened today (Jan 13) in Parc Pemberton Retail Park, Llanelli. Operated by Starbucks licensee Magic Bean, the store will create 35 new jobs for the local area.

To celebrate the opening, the store will hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10am. Local politicians in attendance included Councillors Dorothy Jones, Dr. Gary Jones, Rob James, Deryk Cundy, and Fozia Akhtar, as well as Michelle Donoghue, Member of Llanelli Rural Council, and Paolo Piana, regional organiser for Race Equality Wales and Chair of Llanelli Community Partnership. There was also a coffee tasting event, so customers can experience and learn about the wide range of coffees Starbucks offers in-store.  

The store is also hosting a Friends and Family event on Sunday 12 January from 10am until 4pm. All proceeds on this day will be donated to the store’s charity partner, Tŷ Hafan, a local children’s hospice that provides palliative care for children with life-limiting conditions and support for their families. Representatives from the charity will also attend the ribbon cutting ceremony to fundraise and the Llanelli store team looks forward to continuing to support this important cause. Starbucks values building strong and lasting relationships within store communities through partnerships with local charities, community groups and residents.

Leon Esfahani, Managing Director of The Magic Bean Company, said: “We are so excited to open this Starbucks Drive Thru in Llanelli and look forward to welcoming Llanelli residents and visitors to our new store. Our store team is proud to support Tŷ Hafan in its important mission of supporting children and families in the local area suffering from illness.”

Customers are invited to visit the conveniently located store to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee and relax with the comfortable seating and free wi-fi. Customers looking to recharge while on the go can use the convenient Drive Thru lane. Starbucks coffee is 99% ethically sourced and accredited by Conservation International under the C.A.F.E. Practices programme. Starbucks offers a 25p discount to all customers who bring a reusable cup when purchasing a drink.

The new store is conveniently located at Parc Pemberton Retail Park, Trostre Road, Llanelli, SA14 9DR and is open from 5am – 10:30pm every day, with Drive Thru service available 24 hours.

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Third day for hospital operation cancellations for ‘patient safety’

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HYWEL DDA University Health Board has confirmed that, in the interest of patient safety, planned inpatient operations scheduled for today (Wednesday 8 January 2020) have been postponed at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals. Emergency surgery, day case procedures and outpatient appointments are continuing as normal.


These actions are in line with our escalation procedures to help manage patient flow and maintain patient safety during periods of peak pressure.


We have contacted patients affected directly so please attend as planned if you do not hear from us. Otherwise, please do not contact our appointments or outpatient teams unless absolutely necessary as they are very busy at this time.


Whilst the situation remains challenging, we are currently assessing our operating plans for the days ahead and, as per normal planning arrangements, these will be reviewed on a daily basis.


We will issue an updated statement when a large proportion of planned operations resume.


We apologise for an inconvenience this may cause patients who have had their operations postponed or who have had to wait longer than normal for their procedure.

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