Tag Archives: M4

The Beginning Of The End?

As noted last week in my third and final post of 2018, there is a reason for the lack of posts. After attempting to post weekly in 2017 (I failed, but the longest gap was six weeks) and complaining frequently that I didn’t have time for everything (I always seem to have too many projects on the go) I was advised to stop blogging. The time spent writing didn’t seem worthwhile given that I have received very few genuine comments (lots of spam though) and I am not aware of viewer numbers. I initially intended to phase out the blog, completing the backlog of partly written posts (mostly holiday travel reports) and then bringing the whole thing to a stop. My general level of busyness however has ensured that the partly written posts have stayed that way.

Direct Rail Services class 57 locomotive with 'Northern Belle' coaches crossing a bridge over a road in Goodwick, Pembrokeshire.
Over the limit: a class 57 leads the ‘Northern Belle’ through Goodwick on route to Fishguard Harbour. This is one of my most-recent photographs on Flickr.
Those posts might appear one day, and I have one or two ideas for new posts for this new year, but no promises. Either way, as far as this blog is concerned I think we have reached the beginning of the end. A further setback is that Flickr have decided to introduce a 1,000 photo limit on free accounts. I had over 1,120 photos hosted on the platform, some solely for the purpose of this blog, and have therefore been forced to start deleting some photos. Any new pictures for the blog will therefore have to be hosted elsewhere (I’m using old photos that I had already uploaded to Flickr at the moment).

But enough about me. As 2018 drew to a close I received two e-mails requesting that I contact the five Assembly Members representing my area in the National Assembly for Wales to ask them to vote against the proposals to build a second M4 around Newport. Apparently, the Assembly were expected to vote on the scheme by the end of that year. It soon became clear that the vote would not in fact take place until early 2019, but when it does I feel that the outcome will be profound. Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner For Wales, has spoken out against the project. The decision on whether or not to proceed could therefore have wider implications than decisions on previous road projects. For the first time a major road scheme could be shelved due, in large part, to the need to reduce car travel and greenhouse gas emissions; rather than purely on cost grounds or because of local environmental issues.

New bridge under construction at Severn Tunnel Junction
On the edge of the levels: Severn Tunnel Junction is the nearest I’ve come to a photograph of the Gwent Levels, which the proposed new M4 would run through.
Cancellation of the second M4 could therefore, at long last, be the beginning of the end for the traditional ‘predict and provide’ car culture; and the start of a meaningful shift towards sustainable transport. It might even set an example to other nations that building infrastructure is not always compatible with the need to combat climate change. If it sets such a positive precedent, it might just save life on Earth. On the other hand, if the decision goes the other way and the new motorway is built it would suggest that all the well-meaning legislation that aims to protect nature and the climate are worthless. The Future Generations Act, heralded as ‘groundbreaking’ by its promoters, would suddenly appear toothless and pointless. A dangerous precedent could be set; with road building and traffic growth continuing to be a favoured policy in government as it has been since the era of Dr Richard Beeching’s infamous ‘axe’. Climate change would likely become unstoppable; it could be the beginning of the end for many species.

Apologies for ending on such a pessimistic note, but remember that is just one possible outcome. The plans for a second M4 could yet be abandoned; for all our sakes let us hope so. Either way, 2019 could be a crucial year; let’s do humanity proud.