ENVIRONMENTAL pressure groups are calling on the Assembly to save the Gwent Levels from proposals for an M4 relief road.

In an open letter to transport and economy minister Ieuan Wyn Jones, the Campaign Against the Levels Motorway (CALM) alliance urges the Assembly to scrap plans for the proposed M4 relief road.

The letter coincides with the launch of the group’s “Prospectus for Better Transport in South Wales,” which details “value for money solutions” to transport problems on the M4 around Newport.

Current proposals for the M4 relief road involve building a 15-mile six-lane toll motorway between Magor and Castleton.

CALM objects to the proposals, as the road would cut across the Gwent Levels Site of Special Scientific Interest damaging important habitats for water voles, otters, bats, lapwing and curlew.

Signed by the directors of RSPB Cymru, Gwent Wildlife Trust, Friends of the Earth Cymru and WWF Cymru, the letter said: “The decision on a Gwent Levels motorway is a real test of the government’s commitment to sustainable development and coherent policy making.”

It states that the £1 billion necessary to build the road could be better spent looking into options for making better use of the existing roads and public transport in South East Wales.

The letter concludes by asking Mr Jones to drop the proposed road and support cheaper alternatives.

An Assembly spokesman said: “The deputy first minister has noted their concerns. The business case for the proposed M4 relief road is nearing completion and will be submitted to the minister for economy and transport later this year to inform the National Transport Plan.”