Great news for Gwent Levels as motorway plans scrapped

Neil Aldridge

The Welsh Government has shown its commitment to a wilder future today, after rejecting plans to build an M4 relief road across the Gwent Levels.

This decision keeps the green lungs of busy Newport intact, and the Government true to its promise of improving the wellbeing and prosperity of the people living in Wales, after it passed the world-leading Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act in 2015.

Ian Rappel, CEO of Gwent Wildlife Trust commented:

“We are delighted to hear the news that the Welsh Government has scrapped plans for the UK’s most ecologically damaging motorway scheme and congratulate First Minister Mark Drakeford on his decision.

“The Gwent Levels is Wales’ equivalent of the Amazon rainforest for sheer diversity of wildlife and it is vitally important that its endangered species like water voles, cranes and rare beetles are protected, and that people maintain their connection with – and access to – this fantastic wild haven.

“The decision comes after the Welsh Government declared a Climate Emergency, an announcement they are following up with bold action. I hope that this decision becomes the catalyst for real change throughout Wales and beyond, to show that there are genuine alternatives to the destructive business-as-usual approach.”

“The Gwent Levels is Wales’ equivalent of the Amazon rainforest for sheer diversity of wildlife."

The Wildlife Trusts believe that the natural world is the foundation of our wellbeing and prosperity. Yet, despite its fundamental role it is in a critical condition and the laws that have been put in place to protect it are failing. Urgent action is required and this decision by the Welsh Government is a step in the right direction. It ensures the protected landscape of the Levels remains protected, for wildlife and future generations.

Stephanie Hilborne, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts said:

“This is a historic decision and one that should be repeated by all governments still promoting destructive road schemes, not least Westminster. Mark Drakeford has just shown what environmental leadership looks like.  Wales led the way with its Future Generations Act and now there is evidence that this is not just paper, but reality.

 In the past we’ve sometimes succeeded in campaigning against damaging schemes but often a government will cite cost as the barrier.  Here the First Minister has openly stated that he puts more value on the remarkable wildlife and historic landscape of the Gwent Levels than the Inspector did. Gwent Wildlife Trust and all who campaigned against this scheme are real heroes.  We now look forward to Wales leading on innovative and sustainable low carbon alternatives to the M4, to show what is possible when development and nature’s recovery are considered side-by-side.”

Gwent Wildlife Trust has campaigned against the M4 proposal over the last couple of decades – with 30,000 people adding their voices in recent months, including celebrities Kelly Jones of Stereophonics and John Lydon from the Sex Pistols. Today’s announcement shows that the Welsh Government has listened.

The Wildlife Trusts hope that the Welsh Government continue to lead the way and set an example to other nations. It is vital that we build on this decision and that these plans are set in law through an ambitious Sustainable Land Management Act. To do this we are asking people to come together in calling for a Wilder Future: www.wildlifetrusts.org/wilder-future.

 

Bee at Gwent Levels

Neil Aldridge