Frequently Asked Questions
This FAQ has been prepared in response to a number of popular requests for information made by the public and stakeholders throughout the M4 Corridor Enhancement Measures engagement process. This section provides a summary of responses to common queries. The technical evidence and sources supporting these summaries is available on request.
What is the context of the M4 Corridor Enhancement Measures Programme?
The M4 Motorway between Magor and Castleton falls well short of modern motorway design standards, in relation to capacity and safety. It is congested during weekday peak periods resulting in slow and unreliable journey times and stop-start conditions with frequent incidents causing delays. This, together with increasing traffic, is why problems with congestion and unreliable journey times have also been a fact of life on the M4 around Newport for many years.
In July 2009, the Welsh Government announced that the M4 Relief Road to the south of Newport was no longer affordable. At the same time a package of measures, now known as M4CEM was announced to resolve the issues of capacity, safety and resilience along the M4 corridor between Magor and Castleton.
What is the ‘Consultation’?
The current consultation is open to everyone.
It asks people, and organisations to tell Welsh Government:
- Which problems they consider most pressing, and why?
- Which goals should be prioritised to address these problems, and for comments (to explain why or if they want, to identify new goals)
- What people’s views are on a number of possible options which can meet some or all of these goals.
All the Highway Infrastructure options are all of equal status.
The Welsh Government has expressed no preference, nothing has been decided.
The Minister for Local Government and Communities, Carl Sargeant will make his decision having carefully considered all of the responses received during the consultation. These can be the Response Forms, letters or petitions.
How did Welsh Government originally advertise the opportunity to take part?
Efforts have been made to make as many people as possible across South Wales aware of the opportunity to comment on the Consultation. The Minister for Local Government and Communities wrote to all AMs and MPs in the South Wales area informing them when the Public Consultation was starting and where they could obtain further information. Emails were also sent to all Local Authorities and Clerks of Community Councils in the Newport area advising them of the consultation. The Welsh Government arranged for adverts to be placed in Newport Matters, Capital Times and the Cardiff and South Wales Advertiser to try to reach as many of the public as possible. In addition, Public Notices about the Consultation were published in local papers including the South Wales Echo, South Wales Argus, Glamorgan Gazette, South Wales Evening Post and Western Mail. There have been adverts on Newport Buses, on the Big Screen in Cardiff, and at Motorway services along the M4 (Magor to Swansea), newsletters have also been left in a number of public buildings around Newport.
The adverts and Public Notices provided brief information about the Consultation and included details of the three Workshops and original four drop-in Public Exhibitions. The aims of the workshops and exhibitions were to give an opportunity for the public to have two way dialogue with officials about the transport related issues detailed in the Consultation Document and seek to address any concerns they might have.
How has the consultation been advertised further?
Following feedback from some of the attendees of the original drop-in exhibitions about the failure of some of the original publicity, Welsh Government has arranged for three additional drop-in public exhibitions to be held on:
- Friday 11 May: Brynglas House (Noon-7pm)
- Tuesday 15 May: Ebenezer Baptist Church, Magor (Noon-7pm)
- Thursday 17 May: Newport Centre (Noon-7pm)
The Welsh Government has also extended the Consultation period by an additional month. The Consultation now ends on 6th July 2012.
To advertise these exhibitions and the extended period for responses, Welsh Government has arranged for some 80,000 leaflets to be distributed in the Newport area. The success or otherwise of this advertising is being monitored. To further highlight the Public Consultation and the additional exhibitions there is to be a radio advertising campaign on Real Radio and Gold Radio.
What feedback has there been so far?
We have received many responses already – both on-line and paper-response forms and letters but the greater the number of responses, the more informed the M4CEM strategy will be. All responses will be processed and considered following completion of the Consultation.
I can’t sell my home because of the Consultation, can the Welsh Government buy it?
The Welsh Ministers’ ability to consider acquiring property that is either directly affected or considered seriously affected by its proximity to a proposed improvement is governed by legislative and policy criteria. At this stage with the Public Consultation ongoing the only power available to Welsh Ministers to consider acquiring property affected by the various options is under Section 248 of the Highways Act 1980. This relates to circumstances where an individual's property is directly affected (i.e. land is needed from it) by one or more of the highway options. In such circumstances all of the following statutory and policy criteria would need to be satisfied:
- The vendor(s) must be entitled to the stated interest in the property;
- The property is directly affected by one or more of the proposed options (i.e. land will be required);
- Demonstrate they have reasons unconnected with the proposed improvement for wishing to move immediately that will cause hardship if they don’t sell immediately;
- Provide evidence that they have been unable to sell the property on the open market because of the proposals.
As the options are only at a strategic level it is not possible to identify those properties from which land would need to be acquired, should a particular option go forward to further development. Whilst this can undoubtedly cause uncertainty Welsh Government officials are always willing to write and confirm to prospective sellers and purchasers the position with regard to a proposal’s potential impact on a particular property. At this stage any comment has to be general in nature to reflect the limited amount of available information. If a proposal should change, officials would take due cognisance of the advice previously provided when considering a subsequent application for either Statutory Blight or Off Line Discretionary Purchase.
What will happen next?
After the Consultation ends all of the responses received will be carefully considered and only then will the Minister decide which measures should be developed in the future as the best strategy aimed at addressing transport related problems. The intention is for the Minister to make his announcement towards the end of 2012.
Following the Minister’s announcement an implementation plan will then be prepared setting out a programme for delivery of the announced strategy which may include a range of options/measures included in the Consultation Document. This will include the development of the engineering design to determine environmental impacts and any necessary land to enable an Environmental Statement and draft Orders to be prepared and published. During this period the Welsh Government will be engaging with local people and other interested parties on specific and detailed elements of the implementation plan.
When the draft Statutory Orders and Environmental Statement are published the public has the opportunity to support, object or make representations on the published proposals which the Welsh Government is seeking to implement. Depending on the nature and number of any objections received to the published draft Statutory Orders, a Public Local Inquiry under an Independent Inspector may be held. The Inspector will listen to all of the arguments for and against the published proposals before making his recommendation to the appropriate Welsh Minister. It is then up to the Welsh Minister to decide whether or not to make the necessary Statutory Orders.
How many people use the M4 between Magor and Castleton now and how many people are predicted to use this road in the future?
The most trafficked section of the M4 between Magor and Castleton is J27 and J28. On a typical day in 2008, around 103,000 vehicles used this section. By 2031, traffic using the M4 between J27 and J28 is forecast to rise to 136,000 (a 32% increase).
What are the projections for population growth and how many more cars could this equate to?
There are currently around 2.1 million people living in 900,000 households South Wales. Growth forecasts suggest that there will be 2.4 million people (a 15% increase) living in 1.15 million households in Wales (a 28% increase) by 2033. Assuming an average of 1.05 cars per household, this could equate to an additional 260,000 vehicles on the regional road network by 2033.
For the purposes of the M4 CEM Programme, 'South Wales' comprises the following Local Authority areas: Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Pembrokeshire, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Swansea, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan.
How much does road congestion cost the Welsh economy?
There are no studies on the effect of traffic congestion on the Welsh economy. The most widely cited UK wide study suggests that the cost of congestion to the UK economy is around £30bn per annum (Goodwin, 2004). However, it is well acknowledged that there are positive links between investment in transport and economic development.
How many users of the M4 Corridor between Magor to Castleton are cross border travellers (i.e. use the Severn Crossing Tolls)?
63% of traffic observed travelling between J23a and J24 of the M4 use the Severn Crossings as part of their journey. This percentage falls the further west that traffic is observed. 25% of traffic travelling between J28 and J29 use the Severn Crossings as part of their journey.
How many accidents have there been since the introduction of the temporary 50mph speed limit and permanent variable speed limit system - and how does this compare to historic data?
Data is not currently available for the period following the introduction of the variable speed limit in June 2011, as assessment requires 12 months of data collection. However, in 2010, the first complete calendar year with a 50 mph speed limit and average speed cameras, there were 40 personal injury accidents on the M4 between Magor and Castleton. This compares to an average of 74 personal injury accidents per year for the period 2003-2007.
What percentage of vehicles using the M4 Corridor between Magor to Castleton are HGVs?
HGVs make up between 6-20% of total daily traffic travelling along the M4 between Magor and Castleton, depending on the time of day and direction of travel.
Where are the noise levels highest along the M4 Corridor, Magor to Castleton?
The Welsh Government has compiled strategic noise maps for the study area, which indicate areas subjected to particularly high noise levels. It shows that the communities and businesses worst affected on the M4 Corridor include those located around J25a to J26 (Malpas Relief Road to Malpas) and Junction 24 (Coldra). Please refer to Figure 10 in the Consultation Document.
Where are the air pollution levels highest along the M4 Corridor, Magor to Castleton?
Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) are created where air pollution levels are high enough to be a potential health risk and it is acknowledged that traffic emissions contribute towards air pollution. Whilst Newport has a total of nine AQMAs; four of these are located adjacent to the M4, at:
- St Julians;
- Royal Oak Hill; and
To what extent can 'smarter sustainable choices' actually help to reduce congestion?
A Masterplan of public transport measures targeted at increasing modal shift on journeys made on the M4 Corridor between Magor and Castleton suggests that £300m of investment could increase the mode share to approximately 11% in the Newport area although this would equate to a reduction of less than 3% on M4 sections between J23 and J29.
How can you predict the impact of a proposed highway measure, and how accurate can you be?
A traffic model was developed using the network analysis programme software 'SATURN' to assess the benefits of highway measures contributing towards the M4 CEM Programme, based on 2005 and 2007 data. Traffic forecasts were developed to inform the operational, environmental and economic assessments of proposed highway schemes in the study area. The forecast scenarios with these schemes in place were compared against the baseline scenario, which includes all highway improvement schemes to which Welsh Government is committed at the time of forecasting.
Further traffic counts are underway to enable the existing traffic model to be updated later this year.
The forecast traffic demand used in the M4 CEM appraisals is likely to be high compared to current traffic growth projections, especially if some of Newport's planned development projects fail to be followed through to completion. This is likely to result in an overprediction of economic benefits of any proposed schemes. Appraisal based on the traffic forecasts provide an indication of the relative performance of the different options presented in the Formal Consultation Document.