I first drove along the M4 westward from Cardiff on the day it was officially opened in April 1980, to attend a friend’s wedding at Neath. The thing that immediately struck me and still does is how the entire route joins up the dots by going through every ancient woodland and area of common land available between the beginning and the end of the route.
The Wales Government published a National Transport Finance Plan: Update 2017 in December which was not a document I immediately took an interest in. But in April of this year the Vale of Glamorgan Council announced that they had been working with an independent technical consultant to develop proposals for a new road linking the M4 and A48.
The National Transport Finance Plan has a single bullet point:
Five Mile Lane – Feasibility study to explore options from Sycamore Cross to Junction 34.
These proposals follow a study of the transport links between the two and access to Cardiff Airport that was conducted in 2017.
Two possible routes have been identified, east and west of the existing road, both of which would allegedly improve links between the M4 and A48, reduce journey times to the airport, and help tackle local traffic congestion.
What they also admit is that this proposal is very damaging to the landscape and wildlife, damaging up to seven ancient woodlands and either forty two ancient and species rich hedgerows if the eastern route is chosen or 30 odd on the western route. Without considering all the other wildlife conservation issues which will need to be addressed.
Now these proposals with expenditure of either £58m or £81m depending upon which route is chosen are principally to allow visiting European golfers landing at Cardiff Wales Airport to get to the course quicker.
The public, and other interested groups, are now being asked which of these two routes they feel should be presented to Welsh Government with a request for funding. Something of a fait accompli.
Anyone knowing the area will realise that this B road only goes from Junction 34 to the Sycamore Crossing on the A48, but do not worry about Five Mile Lane. A huge scar has already been put in the landscape as works are in progress to take out the two bends out of that route and allow everybody to drive faster on what will become a straight road.
In a modern Wales committed to tackling climate change, a 9m high concrete flyover similar to the Cowbridge bypass is not a sustainable transport option. These changes are being proposed without any transparency of public engagement and the true impact it will have on future generations.
There is #abetterway
A consultation on the proposals ends on 5th June.
Have your say by taking the survey here.
The real problem with this proposal is that not only is it damaging to the wildlife of the Vale, but there is every likelihood that it will not deliver what is intended anyway. Traffic statistics are notoriously unreliable. With a large expansion of Cardiff focussed on Junction 34 for westerly travel, and a similarly large housing development sited equidistance between Junction 35 and 34 with 34 for easterly travel, Junction 34 is not going to be useable in the near future.