Success - M4 Road Proposals Scrapped

A nationally important wildlife areaA nationally important wildlife area

One of the UK’s most precious wetland landscapes has been saved from road building plans.

Wildlife Trusts Wales have welcomed news that the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has shelved plans for a new motorway over Wales’ Amazon Rainforest – The Gwent Levels. The news came within Wales Nature Week and the day before the UN’s World Environment Day. 

Mark Drakeford, in his Decision letter, stated “I attach very significant weight to the fact that the Project would have a substantial adverse impact on the Gwent Levels SSSIs and their reen network and wildlife, and on other species, and a permanent adverse impact on the historic landscape of the Gwent Levels. As a result, in my judgement the Project’s adverse impacts on the environment (taken together with its other disadvantages) outweigh its advantages"

We are overjoyed that the proposed motorway will no longer threaten the rare wildlife Gwent Levels. Over the years, thousands of people across Wales and further afield have objected to this scheme, we would like to thank each and every one of them. 

The Gwent Levels are home to an astonishing array of wildlife including lapwings, otters, water voles and one of the UK’s rarest bumblebees, the shrill carder bee, plus a host of rare plants. A diverted M4 motorway would create noise and light pollution, and in places form a barrier of traffic that would be impossible for wildlife to cross. It would result in pollution seeping off the road surfaces into the surrounding waterways –which is essential for wildlife here. Building a new road straight through it would have a devastating and irreversible effect.

James Byrne, Living Landscapes Manager for Wildlife Trusts Wales said: "We're delighted. Wales' First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has just shown what environmental leadership looks like in a world where we have a climate and ecological emergency. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Report estimated around 1 million species are threatened with extinction. We hope this decision will have knock on consequences around the rest of the UK and the world. We hope that other governments will follow Wales lead and take a different path."

Rachel Sharp, CEO, Wildlife Trusts Wales “This is a historic decision. Wales led the way with its Future Generations Act and the Environment 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 a high value on the remarkable wildlife and historic landscape of the Gwent Levels. 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.”

Public Inquiry

The Wildlife Trusts  contributed significantly to the public inquiry into the proposed M4. Working with Gwent Wildlife Trust, Wildlife Trusts Wales we able to call on the expertise of some of the worlds leading experts, in economy, climate change, susatainable development, transport and of couse, wildlife. We were also able to secure the services of 7 barristers who worked pro-bono. We thank each and everyone of them and everyone who objected to this scheme. 

Below are some of the reports we had commissioned. The evidence that was presented to the public inquiry can be found under 'Repository of information' tab on the left hand panel.

Read our Closing Statement 

Supporting information

All proofs of evidence and documentation are available here

Read The Blue Route report         Read the Tyndall Centre report                                                                  

The Blue Route