More good news – no M4 ‘relief’ road

The Welsh government will not spend £1.6bn on a ‘relief’ road – that’s a relief because the plans would have wrecked some irreplaceable Welsh landscape and wildlife-rich habitat on the Gwent Levels.

The expense of the project must have been a major reason for its abandonment but Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, also said he would not have gone ahead even if it was affordable because of the impact on the Gwent Levels. That was a good thing to hear because it sets the bar very high for any attempts to bring the scheme back in future.

Maybe the focus will switch to public transport solutions a bit more now.

Well done to all who campaigned to stop this expensive, damaging development. They certainly include Friends of the Earth and the RSPB but I have been struck by, and impressed by, the campaign run by the Gwent Wildlife Trust. Here is a guest blog from Ian Rappel, the Gwent Wildlife Trust Chief Exec, published here back in March 2017.

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4 Replies to “More good news – no M4 ‘relief’ road”

  1. I agree. Ian has been untiring in giving interviews and writing articles to keep the pressure up over this decision. The opposition was formidable, with not only the road builders and the CBI continually lobbying to concrete over the Gwent Levels, but the former First Minister and his ministers also favouring it. So it's worth considering how this victory was achieved.

    In my view, having the Gwent Wildlife Trust so much to the fore, and so unequivocal and unapologetic about its position helped rally people around an unsectarian campaign.

    The legislative context too was significant - as Ian's blog points out, when the Future Generations Commissioner suggested to the Inquiry that the road would contradict the intention of this legislation, the WG blithely insisted it was perfectly consistent with it. But it surely helped the general public see how their intuitions were correct.

    It seems to me this is a good example of why we need progressive policy at a governmental level - but why it only works if it's allied to vigorous grass roots mobilisation.

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  2. FYI: in this case I gather the 'vigorous grass roots mobilisation' amounted to 21,000 signing the petition and 7500 (mostly WT members) writing to the first minister.

    IMO the first number above is very low compared to other petitions (eg Mark's BDGS petition which was well over 100K) while the second is probably very high and may have had more/much more impact on the politician/s involved?

    Ps Very good to see that other NGOs like RSPB/FOE waded in too....this is the way forward surely.

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  3. This really good news for a change and credit must go to the Welsh First Minister for having the courage to take this decision and to the organisations that campaigned against the road.
    As you say Mark it sets the bar high and perhaps our very stupid Westminster Government can take a few lessons from it. For example by cancelling here and now the Oxford to Cambridge motorway, and HS2. The Scottish Government could also refuse planning permission for the incredibly stupid golf course that would devastate Coul Links.

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