M4 at centre of 'stolen powers' debate

14/09/2020
Rhodri Clark

There are concerns in Wales that the UK Government may use powers ‘stolen’ from devolved nations to build the £1.5bn M4 Relief Road at Newport – which Welsh ministers cancelled last year.

The controversial United Kingdom Internal Market Bill would give UK ministers new spending powers in the devolved nations.

‘Providing infrastructure at places in the United Kingdom’ is one of the areas specified, with infrastructure defined as railways, roads or other transport facilities. Those are currently devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, except for Welsh rail infrastructure.

The Bill has its second reading in the Commons tonight and has several stages to go through before a final vote.

A significant rebellion is brewing, with the prime minister suffering a torrid time defending the proposed legislation after the Government acknowledged that the Bill would break international law. 

In February and July, prime minister Boris Johnson told MPs that his government would build the M4 Relief Road.

Little attention was paid to his remarks at the time, but last week Plaid Cymru said the UK Government was giving itself powers to fund projects, including the M4 Relief Road, against the Welsh Parliament’s wishes.

Jeremy Miles, the Welsh Government’s counsel general, claimed the UK government intended to ‘sacrifice the future of the union by stealing powers from devolved administrations’.

He added: ‘This Bill is an attack on democracy and an affront to the people of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, who have voted in favour of devolution on numerous occasions.’

The Infrastructure Act 2015, which established Highways England, relates almost entirely to English roads but mentions Wales under ‘territorial extent and application’.

Could Highways England deliver the M4 Relief Road, if instructed to do so? A Highways England spokeswoman replied to Highways: ‘Our remit is to look after the strategic road network in England.’

The South East Wales Transport Commission, established to advise on M4 Relief Road alternatives, has said rail improvements are the key.

Last week the Welsh Government published a rail blueprint which includes new cross-Newport services and a tram-train line, which would circle the city centre and serve western suburbs en route to Caerphilly.

Transport minister Ken Skates said last week his government would deliver on the commission’s recommendations for buses, road improvements and active travel but, with rail infrastructure not devolved, ‘the UK Government will need to play its part’.

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Also Inside:

  • Traffex Parkex review
  • Round table: Mastering modern contracting
View the latest issue


Highways jobs

Carbon Reduction Manager

£42,614 - £45,648 (pro-rata)
Are you driven to tackle climate change though decarbonisation? Newport (Casnewydd)
Recruiter: Newport City Council

Senior Engineer

£36,371
We are looking to recruit a Senior Engineer within the Structures team. Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taf
Recruiter: Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council

Transportation Planner

£35,336 - £39,571
A Transportation Planner is required for the analysis and monitoring of traffic, to design and undertake feasibility studies. Pembroke, Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)
Recruiter: Pembrokeshire County Council

Highways Service Manager (Commissioning & Contract Management)

£52,848 - £64,998
We are now looking to recruit a number of talented, motivated and innovative individuals. Northampton, Northamptonshire
Recruiter: West Northamptonshire Council

Highways Network Manager

£52,848 - £64,998
We are forming a new highways and transport team for West Northamptonshire Council Northampton, Northamptonshire
Recruiter: West Northamptonshire Council

Assistant Engineer

£27,514 to £29,174 per annum
A great opportunity has arisen for an enthusiastic and self-motivated individual to join our team Preston, Lancashire
Recruiter: Preston City Council

Highways Transport Strategy and Development Manager

£52,848 - £64,998
This is a unique opportunity to join a newly formed unitary authority which is mobilising a new highways contract. Northampton, Northamptonshire
Recruiter: West Northamptonshire Council

Principal Officer (Network Coordination)

£39,571 - £42,614
We are looking for experienced and well-motivated staff to help shape the future delivery of the service. Oxford, Oxfordshire
Recruiter: Oxfordshire County Council

Senior Highways Officer

£36,371 per annum plus £2,000 Market Forces
Hertfordshire truly is the County of Opportunity Hertford, Hertfordshire
Recruiter: Hertfordshire County Council

Highways Development Manager

£44,624 per annum plus £3,000 Market Forces
We are actively recruiting for Highways Development Managers within the Environment & Transport Department Hertford, Hertfordshire
Recruiter: Hertfordshire County Council

Roadworker Ganger (Civils)

£21,989 to £24,447
City of York Council are looking for a number of Roadworker Gangers to join its Highways Capital Projects Team. York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

Highways Inspector.

£25,419 - £28,226
You will be responsible for the planning and carrying out statutory highway inspection. Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Highways Operative - Barrow x4

£22,571 – £23,484
We are looking to recruit a new Highways Operative to our Highways Service. Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumbria County Council

Highway Asset Principal (Performance & Information)

£44,624-£48,684
We're eager to find a compelling and persuasive individual to take advantage of this brand-new opportunity within our Highways Asset Team. Lancashire
Recruiter: Lancashire County Council

Inspector / Senior Inspector

£22,129 - £32,798 pa
Bradford Metropolitan District Council is seeking to recruit an Inspector/Senior Inspector to join the friendly Highway Maintenance Team Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of Bradford MDC

Assistant Contracts Manager

£29,184 to £32,389 - Plus market leading package (see below)
Derbyshire County Council are looking for an experienced Assistant Contract Manager Willington, Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

HGV Mechanic

£23,657 - £25,568 per annum – plus market leading package (see below)
We are looking for a highly motivated Heavy Goods Vehicle Mechanic to join our County Transport team. Brimington, Chesterfield
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Procurement Programme Manager

£54,873 – £60,366
We have an exciting opportunity for a Procurement Programme Manager to join our team. Stratford, London (Greater)
Recruiter: East London Waste Authority (ELWA)

Team Leader LGV Driver

£22,571 - £25,419
An opportunity exists in the Council’s Street Scene Services for a Team Leader LGV Driver. Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Wakefield Council

Multi Skilled Operative

£20,444 - £22,129
We are seeking enthusiastic and capable colleagues to join our Highway Operations team. Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Wakefield Council

Highways Presents

 

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Video