A victory for wildlife and our environment was celebrated across The Wildlife Trust movement in Wales and throughout the UK on the 4th June when the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, shelved plans for a new motorway over Wales’ Amazon Rainforest – The Gwent Levels. The news also came within Wales Nature Week and the day before the UN’s World Environment Day.
Gwent Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive Ian Rappel said:
“We are delighted for both people and wildlife that the UK’s most ecologically damaging motorway scheme has been scrapped for good and we congratulate the First Minister Mark Drakeford on his decision and recognition of the vital wildlife haven that is the Gwent Levels. At a time when international studies have revealed that the world is on the brink of the sixth mass extinction - where 40 per cent of our insects are declining and after a Climate Emergency was recently declared in Wales – Welsh Government should be congratulated for the bold decisions they are making for the future health of people and wildlife. The Gwent Levels is Wales’ biodiversity equivalent of the Amazon rainforest. It is vitally important that endangered species like water voles, otters, cranes and beetles are protected and that people maintain a connection to this wildlife, along with access to this great, green landscape.”
Sarah Kessell, Chief Executive Officer for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said:
“This was a good decision and a progressive move by the First Minister. Congestion on the M4 is undoubtedly an issue but building a relief road through the Gwent levels would have destroyed pristine habitat at a time when wildlife is in crisis. The decision upholds the new Welsh legislation and is in line with the Welsh Government having declared a climate crisis. Solutions must now be found that do not drive up emissions or sacrifice the natural environment."
On behalf of Gwent Wildlife Trust M4 Mr Rappel thanked everyone who have supported and been involved in the #SaveTheGwentLevels #NoNewM4 campaign including partner organisations such as, The Wildlife Trusts, Wildlife Trusts Wales, Campaign Against the Levels Motorway (CALM), the Future Generations Commission Sophie Howe, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, Friends of the Earth Cymru, the Woodland Trust and RSPB Cymru. This also included celebrity supporters such as actress Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones and former Sex Pistol John Lydon.
His thanks extended to the 7,000+ people who send an email of objection to the First Minister Mr Drakeford and the 21,000+ people who also signed a petition against the proposed M4.
Mr Rappel added:
“It’s been a long and hard-fought battle but together we have shown that people can make a difference if you stand together, speak out and fight for what is right for the future of people, wildlife and our planet.”