Yet another try to desecrate the Gwent Levels with an unnecessary motorway. The Gwent Levels is a large coastal area adjoining the Severn estuary, similar in many ways to the Somerset Levels on the other side, but unique in Wales and with substantial heritage value – archeology goimg back to the Bronze age (footprints of their children fishing) and further, history from the Roman period, valuable ecology, and in CPRW terms a precious landscape. that has so far escaped concrete and tarmac. But for about the fifth time in the last 15 years there is a proposal to duplicate the M4 from Magor to Castleton (east Cardiff). Why? two main reasons – for some weekday peak traffic periods it is congested. Wow! Just like every other major traffic artery in the UK, then. And secondly, the resilience of the road network in SE Wales – if there is an accident that blocks the M4, there is no easy diversion. This could be solved without a new M4. Of course there is also an unspoken third reason – it would open up more development land, creating a vast urban sprawl from Chepstow to Cardiff.
CALM (Campaign Against the Levels Motorway) is a group of all the main local and national conservation groups, and local community interests, established some 12 years ago, has once again been mobilised to fight the proposal, and asks everyone to object during the current consultation period – ending on 16th December. Why should you do so? Here is a list of solid reasons: -
.• No business case has been made. Can £1.2bn really be spent on a political whim? Wales would be no better than a third world dictatorship
• Capacity & congestion – no certainty that the proposed new road will help – Cardiff will be more congested with more traffic on A48(M) and other major routes in peak periods.
• Current traffic flows on the M4 are not overwhelming, traffic levels are the same as 2003. Congestion can be managed by initiatives such as 50mph control and managing junctions better
• Rail electrification will encourage a modal shift from road to rail
• Resilience – a much improved A48 route would provide this in emergency (Prof Cole has submitted a scheme at about a third of the cost)
• Newport – the new route would be a Newport Bypass, not assisting Newport trade and business
• What is needed is a S Wales metro system, not a new M4, and this is the subject of a WG investigation

Then there are all the environmental points: -

  • New roads, and this new road across the Gwent Levels in particular, conflict directly with the Wales sustainability policy
  • The road will directly and indirectly affect several SSSIs and be a barrier to movement of species
  • New roads attract traffic, it will not reduce CO2, quite the reverse
  • The total area of loss of open countryside will be much greater than the figures given, without allowing for the ‘collateral damage’ of adjacent greenfield development opened up by the new road
  • Wales has failed to achieve biodiversity targets, this new road will make a bad situation worse in SE Wales
  • The landscape of the unique Levels will never be the same, WG will have destroyed another part of Wales heritage
  • The effects of changed drainage, air pollution and noise are unquantified, but there is likely to be unforeseen damage
  • Adjacent communities and residents will suffer various disbenefits, including likely decreased property values

Iolo Williams passionately supported CALM at a packed meeting recently, and a new name for the folly was coined – the Edwina Hart White Elephant, because if it is built, with car use plateauing, internet use increasing, rail electrification and a S Wales Metro, it will soon be obvious that there was no need in traffic terms. But the White Elephant will have trampled all over the Gwent Levels. What a legacy she will leave.

PLEASE OBJECT – see http://www.m4newport.com/ and the CALM website www.savethelevels.org.uk