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Airport road plan divides opinions Dec 5 2008 by Peter Collins, South Wales Echo
BATTLE lines have been drawn in an increasingly fierce debate on whether a multi-million pound access road to Cardiff International Airport should be built through the Vale of Glamorgan countryside.
The Welsh Assembly Government is expected to announce its preferred route early next year following extensive public consultation which has highlighted starkly differing opinions about the need for such a road and the environmental damage it could cause.
The Vale of Glamorgan-based Plaid AM, Chris Franks, today rejected all three alternative routes put forward by the Welsh Assembly Government, while Vale Labour MP John Smith called for an urgent start to work on the link.
Meanwhile, an action group opposed to what is regarded by many as the most likely option has criticised “deficiencies” in the study into the options and the public consultation on them.
Two of the three options centre on the A4232 from Junction 33 of the M4, while the third promotes a new road link south of J34 of the M4 with an eastern or western bypass at Pendoylan before linking with the A48 at Sycamore Cross.
Mr Franks said all three options should be dropped.
He said: “These options do not stack up economically, environmentally or financially.
“Pumping more than £100m into a scheme would have little benefit for the economy of Barry while causing a huge intrusion as a road is driven through countryside.
“If a scheme is being developed to tie in with the proposed Metrix defence academy scheme at St Athan, then I believe the money would be better put into improving both rail and bus services rather than building a road that is not needed.”
However, Mr Smith called on the Welsh Assembly Government to use some of the £140m provided by the Treasury to build the access road as soon as possible.
Mr Smith said: “The existing airport access road is a brake on the airport’s future growth. If Cardiff International Airport is to continue to be one of the fastest growing airports in the UK and to cope with the extra road traffic generated by the Defence Technical Academy and Aerospace Business Park in St Athan which are on the airport’s doorstep, the road system must be improved.
“I believe the road building will help stimulate the Welsh economy because it will create jobs for local people during the construction phase and inject money into the local economy as workers spend their money locally in our shops and businesses.”
Meanwhile, the NEVAR group (No Ely Valley Airport Road) has petitioned the Welsh Assembly Government on its handling of the consultation into the proposals.
The petition says: “We call upon the Welsh Assembly Government to consider the serious deficiencies in its study and public consultation exercise before making any decision as to road improvements or developments, other than those to reduce congestion at Culverhouse Cross.”