THE company which owns Magor services has said it is worried for motorists' safety if the proposed M4 relief road does not include proper access to their service station.

Roadchef are said to have "serious concerns for the safety of road users" if the Welsh government's proposed route for the relief road, which will extend to the south of Newport between M4 junctions 23A (Magor) and 29 (Castleton), was not amended to include direct access to and from the motorway service area (MSA) at Magor.

The firm points to the findings of the road safety audit commissioned by the Welsh government to examine safety features of the proposed relief road.

That report said if Magor services was inaccessible from the relief road, the distance between the two nearest service stations – Cardiff Gate and Leigh Delamere – would be 48 miles.

The auditors said a trunk road connecting the relief road to Magor services "represents a significant detour" and "is not likely to appeal to the majority of drivers".

Motorists unwilling to make that detour, the report argued, would result in higher levels of fatigue and possibly cause more accidents.

The report pointed to UK Department of Transport guidelines which recommended the maximum spacing of MSAs should not exceed 28 miles.

Simon Turl, chairman of Roadchef, said: "Roadchef are deeply concerned about the potential exclusion of the Magor motorway service area from the new M4 relief road.

"The main role of a motorway service area is to provide road users with a safe and easily accessible place to rest during long journeys.

"If the site is made inaccessible, which under the current plans it would be, there will be a significant risk to road safety."

Since the publication of the audit report, the Welsh government's design team has added an eastbound slip road for Magor services to their plans, which it claims will "provide access in to the rest area at Magor of similar ease from all directions".

But Roadchef argues that unless the relief road includes access to Magor services from the westbound carriageway, the risk to drivers remains because many motorists would be unwilling to take the proposed diversion of more than four miles.

“Roadchef welcomed the Welsh government’s decision to include a direct Eastbound access to Magor in its proposed route, but any decision moving forward must include a direct westbound egress to ensure Magor can fulfil its road safety function," Mr Turl said.

The firm pointed to its own research on motorway users' habits, carried out in Magor between August and October 2016, as evidence access to the MSA was important for safety reasons.

In a survey of more than 500 customers at Magor services, 85 per cent of people told Roadchef they had stopped there because they needed a break.

Other common reasons for stopping included wanting to use the bathroom (34 per cent) and wanting to buy a snack or drink (21 per cent).

Roadchef found half of customers had specifically planned to stop at Magor before startig their journey. Of those people, the vast majority said the convenience of the site was their main reason for stopping there.

The customers were then asked how they felt about taking a diversion to reach a service station.

53 per cent of those surveyed said they would not stop at Magor if there was a diversion of two miles.

And 63 per cent said they would choose not to stop at Magor if there was a 4.5-mile diversion.

Reflecting on the research, Roadchef said: "These findings reinforce Roadchef’s concerns around road safety, and how for these reasons it is critical that Magor MSA is included without a lengthy diversion in any developments going forward."

Commenting on Roadchef's concerns, a Welsh government spokesman said: “Roadchef’s concerns were heard during the process of the public inquiry, and considered in depth.”