Yesterday I visited Magor marshes with Peter Varley ( standing for Newport East). To say the Directors of Gwent Wildlife Trust were depressed was an understatement. They have just had a Compulsory Purchase Order served on them, in order to use this fragile landscape for a 6 lane motorway.
I studied the plans, and in some places this motorway will be banked up an eye watering 18 meters above the land. The associated bridge over the Usk will restrict the height of shipping which will be able to enter Newport Docks, thus jeopardizing the jobs and commercial viability of the dock itself.
It is important not to forget that Llanwern Steelworks was itself built on the wetlands in 1962, so even then the viability of the wetlands was being compromised. To steal yet more of this Outstanding Landscape of Historic Interest is simply wrong. This environment cannot be re-created. The damage would be permanent.
My job as a Green is to protect and enhance life on this planet for all species, including humans. Scientists are in agreement that by continuing to burn fossil fuels we are releasing too much CO2 into the atmosphere, causing the planet to warm at a speed which will be almost impossible to control. This warming, for all our sakes – otters as well as humans – must be halted at once if this planet is to remain habitable.
Building another motorway will inevitably cause the burning of yet more fossil fuels. ‘Build it and they will come’ has never been truer than in the case of road building. Far from solving the problems of congestion, new roads are the harbingers of even more congestion. More congestion means more pollution, and more pollution is the very thing we want to avoid.
Pollution hurts our health, our environment and all living things, sometimes terminally in the case of heart and lung disease.
This 6 lane extension to the M4 is not necessary. If we look at the 19 miles ( yes only 19 miles) of sometimes congested road around the Bryn Glas tunnel area, it is not difficult to see that this is the Magor to Castleton area which is poorly provided for in public transport. Crossing from one side of Newport to another on public transport is a time consuming and tricky business, for no bus goes straight across the city, and worse, you have to walk from one bus station to the other because our planned sensible bus station site – opposite the train station – was sold to out to commercial interests. Inevitably, it has become preferable to face the congestion and buy a car.
The real solution for our ever increasing congestion and growing levels of pollution is a fast, affordable, and frequent public service. The plans for South East Wales Metro have been drawn up for some years, yet the political will to bring them to reality has been lacking. Conversely the political will to build a 6 lane motorway across site of internationally recognised protected habitat seems to be all too forthcoming.
The cost of this M4 extension will be ( at today’s figures) £1.2 billion for 20 miles of motorway. That is more than enough to pay for an upgrade to the relevant part of the Metro, including the opening of all the little stations along the route.
In summary, this short-sighted vanity project by the Welsh Labour government will mean the devastation of one of our most rare wetland habitats which will have the automatic effect of increasing pollution, whilst depleting the financial reserves which should rightly be used to bring us a much-needed public transport system.
I would like to see us all freed from pollution and congestion. I would like to see Wales pulling its weight to respect the health and well-being of future generations. If you elect me to the Senedd on May 5th you can be sure I will fight to stop this motorway being built, whilst at the same time working for a world class public transport system which we will all be proud to use.