Ten leading environmental charities have written an open letter to the Welsh government expressing major concerns about proposals for the M4 relief road.
The letter, addressed to Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates, First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths and Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe, stresses that the route would cause significant environmental damage. The charities say it would destroy 8km of the Gwent Levels, which is home to iconic wildlife species like water voles, and increase air and noise pollution, as well as costing the Welsh economy an estimated £2.3 billion.
The letter signed by signatories from Wildlife Trusts Wales, RSPB Cymru, Friends of the Earth Cymru, Sustrans Cymru, and others, asks the Welsh government to consider a more sustainable route for the M4 relief road. It also suggests that the Environment Act and Well-being of Future Generations Act should act as ‘an opportunity for the Welsh government to highlight to the world that this new legislation does not mean ‘business as usual’, but the dawn of a new era of true sustainability here in Wales’.
The Welsh government’s Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates told the BBC: “I’m keen that we should proceed with a public inquiry as soon as possible to be able to determine and to scrutinise the options that are available and also to explore whether there are any other options that are viable.”
Welsh Transport Minister Edwina Hart approved plans for a £1 billion M4 relief road around Newport in 2014.