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Green regulator voices concern over M4 project

Published: Thursday, 26th May 2016

Natural Resources Wales voices environmental concerns over the proposed £1bn M4 corridor project around Newport...

The Welsh government’s statutory adviser on environmental issues has voiced a litany of reservations about proposals for the M4 relief road championed by the country’s Labour-led minority administration.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has voiced concerns over the schemes impact on protected sites and species ranging from water voles to bats. It has also expressed objections over the flood risk posed by the so-called “black route” near Newport which would involve a new crossing of the River Usk and potential damage to sites of special scientific interest across the Gwent Levels.

It said it would object to the project in its current form. In a 95-page report NRW said it was unable to agree with the conclusions of the Environmental Statement produced for the £1bn project that “adverse effects on European protected species and water voles and the Gwent Levels Sites of Special Scientific Interest can be avoided”.

The green regulator also said the project was “contrary to the Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note (TAN) 15 on Development and Flood Risk”.

The report has made it clear that from the information provided, the NRW was “unable to agree with the conclusions of the Environmental Statement that adverse effects on dormice, bats, great crested newt, otter and water vole can be avoided.” The regulator has requested a slew of additional information and survey work.

“We may be able to revise our view if the requested additional information is able to adequately address our concerns” the document added.

Roger Milne