The UK government has always been clear that they were only permitting borrowing because they wanted this particular scheme to proceed (which makes the Welsh Lib Dems’ apparent opposition more than a little curious, even if it isn’t exactly unusual for that party to be both for and against policies).
One option for funding the Metro scheme is the use of European funding. Cardiff is not actually entitled to that money but it’s been suggested previously that schemes which happen to benefit a greater area might be able to tap into such funding, effectively diverting them to Cardiff. It’s a little bit like robbing the poor to pay the rich but there’s nothing new or original about that.
On the matter of the M4 itself, Gareth Clubb has done a very effective deconstruction of the objective “evidence” (or rather total lack of) for the government’s proposed scheme. Whilst both the government and the CBI refer incessantly to the damage which the limited capacity of the M4 does to the Welsh economy, they have no facts to back that claim. We are all, apparently, supposed to take the claim on trust because they say it is so.
In principle, of course transport bottlenecks will negatively impact on those economic activities (and thus those companies) which depend on transport; but the leap of logic from stating that obvious truth to building a six lane highway around Newport is far from being an obvious – let alone the only – solution. And the concentration of attention and resource on one (comparatively small) area of Wales betrays an obsession with the idea that the Welsh economy is wholly dependent on (a) what happens in one corner of the country, and (b) on the link between that corner and England. It’s not a version of the future which offers much to those of us in the west or north of the country. Nor does it suggest any serious intention to rebalance the Welsh economy and promote more sustainable local economic activity across Wales.All in all it tends to confirm that “sustainability” is something to be talked about ad infinitum; something which politicians can declare themselves passionate about when seeking ‘green’ votes. But it isn’t really anything which requires them to take any action.