The Welsh Government has scrapped plans to build a £1.4bn motorway through the Gwent Levels in South Wales.

The proposed 14-mile, six-lane, motorway has been cancelled due to escalating costs and concerns about its impact on the environment, the government said.

Environmentalists welcomed the government’s decision, claiming that the new road around the city of Newport would have damaged the city’s historic landscape.

The road was planned to ease heavy vehicular traffic on the main route into south Wales.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford told The Guardian: “I recognise the inspector’s conclusions. However, I attach greater weight than the inspector did to the adverse impacts that the project would have on the environment.”

Drakeford further blamed austerity measures and Brexit concerns for cancellation of the project.

Drakeford told the publication: “This decision is being made at the point of maximum uncertainty about our financial future.

“Unprecedented austerity in the public finances is combined with a complete lack of clarity over our capital budgets for the coming years, and is exacerbated by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.”

A commission will now search for alternative solutions to the traffic issues around Newport, according to Drakeford.

The project plans included a 440m span cable stay bridge south of Newport.

It was initially estimated that the project could be delivered for £400m. However, the budget later surged to almost £1bn and has since risen to around £1.4bn-£1.6bn.

“This has been a dreadfully slow process riddled with political indecision.”

Civil Engineering Contractors Association Wales director Ed Evans said: “The civil engineering sector looks forward to hearing details as a matter of urgency of how the Welsh Government now intends to use its borrowing powers to invest in Wales’ infrastructure with alternative schemes.

“This has been a dreadfully slow process riddled with political indecision. And yet the problems for businesses and communities in this part of Wales remain as do, sadly, the environmental impacts caused by congestion and tailbacks at the tunnels.”

Plans to build the motorway were first proposed in 1991 but scrapped by the Welsh Government in 2009 due to surging costs. Plans were later revived in 2011 with the possibility of a toll motorway.