THE £1.4 billion M4 relief road should not go ahead as other regions must have a “fair slice” of the transport funding pie, according to the leader of Swansea Council.
On the eve of one the biggest infrastructure decisons in Wales in decades, Rob Stewart urged the Welsh Government to shelve the six-lane motorway south of Newport.
Speculation has been mounting that First Minister Mark Drakeford will reject calls for the “black route” scheme on June 4.
Cllr Stewart said: “I hope the Welsh Government does not pursue the proposed M4 relief road.
“Estimates put the cost of the scheme between £1 billion and £2 billion.
“If it hits £2 billion then little will be left for anything else anywhere else in Wales.
“Investment in roads, rail infrastructure and public transport across Wales is needed. It cannot be pooled in just in one area.”
The Swansea Labour leader added: “The pie needs to be cut more fairly, with each region getting a fair slice, not the whole thing going to the South East.”
Asked his reponse to those who say a more free-flowing M4 would benefit all of South Wales, Cllr Stewart said he was not against work to improve the motorway.
The M4 carries traffic from both Severn crossings before narrowing to two lanes at the Brynglas tunnels.
Business groups want the relief road to be built while others, including environmentalists, say the Gwent Levels – a sensitive wetlands landscape – would be ruined by having a motorway built through it.
The relief road proposal dates back nearly 30 years, and Welsh Labour’s manifesto for the 2016 election said the party would deliver it.
BBC Wales reported in February this year that a public inquiry looking into the issue, plus development costs, had cost £44 million.
In April, the Welsh Government declared a climate emergency – a move which some say would be incompatible with a relief road through the Gwent Levels.
An alternative “blue route” has previously been put forward by the Institute of Welsh Affairs.
It said an upgraded A48 Newport distributor road and former steelworks road would cost nearly a third of the Welsh Government’s “black route” and have less environmental impact.
Speaking over the weekend, Newport West MP Ruth Jones said the relief road had to go ahead.
“We need a decision because it’s hamstringing industry, schools, homes, tourism as well,” she told BBC Wales.