Wildlife groups have called on the Welsh government to not allow a new six lane motorway to be built across the Gwent Levels, which they say will destroy the habitats of wildlife including water voles, otters and cranes.
They say the new motorway will cut across six protected wildlife havens and destroy or damage a historic landscape which is ‘Wales’ equivalent to the Amazon rainforest.’
The Gwent Levels have been especially popular for water voles after they were reintroduced to the area six years ago, with the species bouncing back from near-extinction.
New mapping shows that they have bred successfully in the region and spread up to 10 kilometres.
The water vole is the UK’s most rapidly declining mammal and has been lost from 94% of places where they were once prevalent.
The Wildlife Trusts are launching a new campaign urging people to write to the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones.
Ian Rappel, chief executive of Gwent Wildlife Trust says: ‘The fantastic success of the water vole reintroduction project is a wonderful testament to all the great efforts of volunteers and staff working to enhance the Gwent Levels for wildlife.
‘This beautiful landscape is a nature lover’s paradise and people really enjoy its peace and tranquillity. But the success is bitter-sweet. If the new road gets the go-ahead billions will be spent destroying a very special place for the sake of saving ten minutes of commuting time.’
‘Gwent Wildlife Trust fought the new road proposals during the Public Inquiry – but now we need everyone who cares about nature to voice their concern about these destructive plans. We believe that Welsh Government should scrap the billion-pound-plus road and invest, instead, in a modern public transport system for the people of Wales.’
Stephanie Hilborne OBE, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts added: ‘When future generations realise the extent of the damage this generation has wreaked on our finite, beautiful, natural world they will ask “why?” Why, for the sake of a few minutes knocked off journey times, did we destroy the unique and irreplaceable Gwent Levels.
‘Wherever you live in the UK please help stand up for wildlife and put a stop to the M4 “black route.”
‘We do not have the right to destroy this treasure or deprive future generations of its joy.’