M4 problems risk to economy of Wales - MPs
5:32pm Tuesday 5th March 2013 in News
PROBLEMS with the M4 continue to pose a risk to the economy of Wales, a group of MPs has said.
The Welsh Affairs Committee said the motorway has suffered from under-investment and congestion for too long.
It called on Welsh and UK Governments work together urgently to find a way to fund essential improvements.
Calls were made again for the UK Government to reduce tolls, with the committee saying the cost of using the Severn Crossings is still hampering the development of businesses in Wales.
The report into cross-border transport links said it was hugely disappointing that a £112 million debt on the crossings was not made clear by the Government when the committee looked into the bridges in 2010.
Meanwhile the two governments should develop plans for a high speed link from Wales to England amid worries that the proposed High Speed Two scheme would attract firms east.
David Davies, MP for Monmouth who chairs the committee, said: “We have long warned of the damage that is done to the Welsh economy by the high toll on the Severn Crossings, and if anything that situation is worsening.
“It is a huge disappointment that the crossings have accumulated a huge and apparently unforeseen debt which now risks delaying the badly needed reduction in toll levels.
"We will continue to closely monitor this situation and push for a solution that will serve the Welsh people and Welsh economy.”
Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East who also sits on the committee, added: “The Westminster government needs to sort out the future of the Severn bridges now and crucially get the tolls down for local people and businesses.”
The committee heard evidence from Freight Transport Association which raised doubts on the ability of the Welsh Government to fund improvements to the M4.
Proposals for the High Speed Two rail link from London into the Midlands and the North of England could also damage the Welsh economy, the committee argued, potentially leading to firms and people relocating eastwards.
The committee also called for the UK Governments and Welsh government to develop plans for a high speed link from Wales to England.