Campaign Against the Levels Motorway Protest at the Senedd
Gwent Wildlife Trust has been campaigning against proposals for a new M4 relief road across the Gwent Levels for over 10 years. This nationally important area is home to a wealth of wildlife and we insist a new motorway is not the solution to the traffic problems experienced in the area.
What can you do to stop it?
We need help from as many people as possible in order to demonstrate to the Government that we don't want more cars on roads, at the cost of our wildlife.
Help us by:
• Signing the online petition
• Joining CALM (just email us to subscribe to the CALM newsletter)
• Writing to your Assembly Members - tell them that you want them to protect wildlife, not destroy it!
What are we doing to stop it?
Gwent Wildlife Trust has responded in detail to all of the recent M4 consultations (available for download below). We encouraged our supporters to do the same.
Our umbrella organisation, Wildlife Trusts Wales, gave evidence to the Environment & Sustainability Committee when they were investigating the consultation process followed. They also continue to advocate the value of the wildlife of the Gwent Levels and press for alternative measures at the national level.
Gwent Wildlife Trust and CALM are supporting Friends of the Earth Cymru in their legal challenge against the Welsh Government. This stems from a firm belief that the latest consultation was unfair, as it did not consider reasonable alternatives to road building, that the options presented were too similar, and that the data used was outdated. We also believe that the objectives of the M4 program are biased towards road building.
In July, the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart, announced that the Welsh Government had adopted a plan for a new three lane motorway between Magor and Castleton. The route will broadly follow the ‘black route’ proposed in the November 2013 consultation, passing through the Gwent Levels Living Landscape - designated as SSSIs - and over the River Usk Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
This commits the Welsh Government to planning and building the new road, and also to spending over a billion pounds of taxpayers’ money. This is likely to come from a combination of the Welsh budget and money borrowed from the UK government.
The announcement came immediately prior to publication of a report produced by the Environment and Sustainability Committee, which states that there are ‘serious unanswered questions’ regarding the M4 consultation process to date.
The minister has also inadequately considered the alternative ‘Blue Route’ put forward by Transport Professor Stuart Cole, which upgrades existing infrastructure. The blue route would be less environmentally damaging, nearly a quarter of the cost, cause less disruption during construction and could be operational within a few years. The new motorway would not be completed until 2021 at the earliest.
The Gwent Levels is nationally important for its wildlife and designated as such especially for the rare aquatic invertebrate assemblages and wetland plants found in the network of reens across the area. The proximity of the Levels to the internationally important Severn Estuary and River Usk add further value to this wetland complex.
Some of the wildlife found on the Levels includes;
- Otters – the biggest threat to this wonderful mammal is from road kills.
- Water voles – our sucessful reintroduction project shows that the area is their perfect habitat.
- Breeding waders – lapwing, snipe, redshank and curlew all breed locally across the Levels, with further species on the Newport Wetlands reserve.
- 144 Nationally Notable or Red Data Book aquatic invertebrate species including water beetles and dragonflies have been recorded from the Gwent Levels.
The Levels also supports the nationally scarce rootless duckweed (Wolffia arrhiza). This is considered to be the world’s smallest flowering plant and occurs nowhere else in Wales.
The Gwent Levels have suffered from severe development pressure over the years which has continually eroded this amazing habitat. If the proposals for road building go ahead, one of the UKs largest surviving areas of ancient grazing marshes and reen systems with its associated, unique wildlife will be irreparably damaged.
Damage would not be limited to direct loss of habitat where the road is built; the road would create a barrier preventing the movement of wildlife between the protected areas not under concrete. In addition, the road will impede water movement between these isolated pockets and this could have a significant effect on the wetland habitat. The pollution that runs off the road into the reen system could seriously affect the water quality that is so vital for the important inhabitants of the wetlands.
Gwent Wildlife Trust is a part of the Campaign Against the Levels Motorway (CALM) alliance. This is a group of organisations and individuals opposed to road building on the Gwent levels. CALM members include Gwent Wildlife Trust, Friends of the Earth Cymru, Gwent Ornithological Society, CPRW, Community Councils, and concerned individuals.