This month, I’ve been having a competition with my best friend, just for fun, to see who could run the most miles in November. On Friday the 23rd I hit 100 miles. I’m no athlete, fitness enthusiast or healthy person in general. I just wanted to see how far I could push myself. For the next 30 days, me and Rhodri are going to try and run a combined 900+ miles, with help from as many people as we can get, to try and protect wildlife in Wales.
I was recently made aware of the Welsh Governments plans to build a new M4 relief road through the heart of the Gwent Levels. It’s pretty bad that this road is going to cost over £1.2b. It’s not great that it is going to destroy 5 sites of Special Scientific Interest or that it will destroy the homes of otters, watervoles, nesting cranes, lapwing and one of the UK’s rarest bumblebees, the shrill carder. In total the Gwent Levels waterways stretch out over 900 miles and have been described as a “soup of life – home to hundreds of rare creatures”. So rich in fact, some conservationists compare its diversity to the Amazon rainforest. The chief executive of Gwent Wildlife Trust has described the levels as “One of the largest surviving areas of ancient grazing marshes in Britain. It is a nationally important habitat but also incredibly important from a historical and cultural point of view.”
See wildlife conservation photographer Neil Aldridge’s stunning shots of wildlife at the levels.
We all know about climate change. We can all see what the world is facing. Everyone is constantly debating the right way forward, but surely everyone can agree, the last thing the world needs right now is another motorway. Chairman of the campaign group Calm (Campaign Against the Levels Motorway) has pointed out that the initial M4 was built as a bypass. Everyone who lives in Wales knows the spot, where the motorway narrows into two lanes to pass through the Brynglas tunnel above Newport. The traffic there is horrendous and drives us all mad. But as Hepworth argues,
“If you have a dicky heart and need a bypass on a bypass, you should think about changing your lifestyle. We need something that’s healthier, a more viable way of solving the problem. The government talks about the economic gain and saving time for car and lorry drivers. But saving 10 minutes is a high price to pay for the loss of all this.”
Nobody is saying there isn’t an issue to be dealt with here, but why don’t we invest in public transport over new road networks. Not to mention the clear lack of infrastructure in Wales itself. Surely a better tactic of economic growth in Wales would be to connect the North with the South?
“Remember the saying “You’re not stuck in traffic, you ARE traffic”
So in order to get as many people as possible to write to the Welsh government and stand up against this new road, I’m going to attempt to run 900 miles (the length of the Gwent Levels waterways) in December with my family and friends. The idea is that over December if you go running you can join my Run For Wildlife group on the Strava app and contribute miles. My aim is to promote the CALM campaign and hopefully stop this ridiculous plan and save what is a haven for so many individual lives.
Please spare this fantastic area 20 seconds and help us get as many signatures as possible on these petitions:
Or donate to the Wildlife Trust: