M4 motorway diversion could threaten vital wildlife habitat

The Welsh Government is proposing to divert the M4 motorway through the Gwent Levels, an important natural space for flora and fauna. 

Water voles are just one of the species at risk if the M4 diversion is built through the Gwent Levels. © RSPB
Water voles are just one of the species at risk if the M4 diversion is built through the Gwent Levels. © RSPB

On 11 March 2016 the Welsh Government opened a public consultation on plans to build a motorway through four Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that are vital for protecting nature in Wales.

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RSPB Cymru Countryside Manager Arfon Williams says, “Sweeping the Severn Estuary coastline from Cardiff to the Severn Bridge and beyond, the Levels is an irreplaceable patchwork of wildlife havens and landscapes.

“It is home to an astonishing array of wildlife including lapwings, otters, water voles, the great silver water beetle and the world’s smallest flowering plant.” 

The RSPB is concerned that a diverted M4 motorway will create a barrier of traffic that wildlife cannot cross and will pollute the surrounding waterways that animals depend on.

The threat of the new motorway diversion south of Newport in Gwent has been hanging over the landscape for more than 20 years. 

The deadline to respond to the public consultation is 4 May 2016. 

4 Gwent Levels Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

  • Gwent Levels – Nash & Goldcliff SSSI
  • Gwent Levels – Whitson SSSI
  • Gwent Levels – St Brides SSSI
  • Gwent Levels – Redwick & Llandevenny SSSI
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