A decision by the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford to reject plans for an M4 relief road has been welcomed by the motorway service area operator Roadchef, but has been criticised by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

Roadchef had opposed the plan because it said the proposed route meant Magor Services, at junction 23A, would no longer be on the motorway.

In evidence to an inquiry into the proposals in September 2017, Roadchef said drivers would be required to undertake a two-mile diversion to access Magor Services, and it warned the proposal would jeopardise the future of the site because of the loss of trade.

It also argued that the lack of accessible services would damage road safety, leaving a 49-mile gap between service areas, and creating one of the “longest distances and times between stop rests on the UK’s motorway network”.

Following the announcement by the First Minister, Roadchef chairman Simon Turl said: “Roadchef, its customers and employees at the Magor motorway service area are relieved that proper access to the first services on the M4 in Wales will be maintained.

“With the safety of road users at the heart of our business, we have been campaigning to guarantee access to Magor motorway service area and, in doing so, continue to ensure the safety of Wales’ road users.

“In light of today’s decision, Roadchef is looking forward to working with the Welsh Government to release vital investment at Magor which has up until now been on hold. Today’s announcement goes one step further in giving us the clarity we need to begin an exciting programme of investment.”

However, Sally Gilson, head of Welsh policy at FTA, commented: “As the organisation representing the UK’s logistics sector, FTA is urging the First Minister to reconsider his decision. The M4 is a vital stretch of infrastructure with international economic importance, yet it is blighted by heavy congestion. FTA’s members have consistently evidenced the urgent need to tackle these congestion issues. It is frustrating that the opportunity to deliver this essential investment into South Wales’ infrastructure has been missed.”