Local AM calls on Welsh Government to reject proposals to close Junction 41 (Published 11.10.2018)

Aberavon’s AM, David Rees, has had an urgent meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Economy & Transport, Ken Skates, following last month’s publication of a report to the Welsh Government which considered the next stages of reducing vehicle emissions along the section of the M4 between junctions 41 & 42. The report included a proposal to the Welsh Government to consider closing junction 41 on-slip westbound as a possible option in an attempt to reduce roadside emissions of nitrogen dioxide. At the meeting Mr Rees reminded the cabinet Secretary of the traffic chaos that was created along local roads during the trial part-time closure of the same junction a few years ago and that the harm of emissions from the vehicles that were at best crawling along many local routes would be greater than any emissions on the elevated section of the M4 between those junctions.


Mr Rees said “The last time this closure was attempted we all saw the chaos and congestion on our local roads. Queues formed for hours along the A48 through Baglan, Afan Way, Western Avenue, Seaway Parade, Tan-y-Groes Street, Abbey Road, The A4107 (top Road), Dan-y-bryn Road and many more as people sought to avoid the traffic. We had gridlock. The emissions from these vehicles affected everyone at ground level and was hugely harmful. Today, we will have more children walking along those roads as they travel to the two new schools which have opened on Seaway parade, Ysgol Bae Baglan & Ysgol Bro Dur, in addition to those previously on the routes. To suggest that this proposal will reduce harm to the public is farcical. Clearly those who produced the report did not talk to local people.”


“I have made these points clear to the Cabinet Secretary and urged him to reject it outright on the basis that it will increase the exposure of local people, especially children, to nitrogen dioxide emitted by the vehicles that will be travelling very slowly in the congestion on local roads. I have also raised this matter with the First Minister at the Assembly calling for him to reaffirm the decision of the Cabinet Secretary in 2016 to end any prospect of future closure of Junction 41 following the trial.”


At his meeting with the Cabinet Secretary Mr Rees has also secured a further meeting for all interested AMs with Welsh Government officials to discuss the report and express the views of the local people against this idea. He also indicated that the report has flaws within it, such as claiming to use Harbour Way as a base point for any measuring of emissions when the chaos caused was to the west of the town and not along Harbour Way. Mr Rees intends to update local people at a public meeting that has been arranged for Monday evening at Blancos Hotel and will urge everyone to get behind the campaign being led by local Labour councillors, submit their responses to the consultation already underway which closes on the 2nd November 2018 (https://beta.gov.wales/tackling-roadside-nitrogen-dioxide-concentrations-wales-weltag-stage-3) and to sign a new petition calling for the Welsh Government to reject this proposal.