A PETITION to “save” the Gwent Levels from major developments has been handed over to the Senedd where they hope it will be debated in the coming weeks.

More than 4,500 people signed the petition online before it closed on Thursday, January 25.

Around a third of signatures (1,524) came from the Monmouth and Newport East constituencies.

READ MORE: Solar farm plans in Gwent Levels 'terrifying', say villagers

Another 384 people signed the petition in Newport West.

It means the campaign has fallen short of the 10,000 signatures needed to guarantee consideration for debate. All petitions with more than 250 signatures are discussed by the Senedd’s petitions committee.

That is despite support from TV naturalists such as Iolo Williams, Lizzie Daly and Gillian Burke.

South Wales Argus: The petition stopped taking signatures last weekThe petition stopped taking signatures last week (Image: Senedd)

For comparison, the record-breaking petition to “rescind and remove” the 20mph default speed limit, which does not close until March 13, has accrued more than 31,000 signatures from Monmouth, Newport East and Newport West.

Adam Taylor, CEO of Gwent Wildlife Trust, said: “Only 8 per cent of the land and coastal areas of Wales is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. These areas should be sacrosanct.

“We need to stress that we are not opposed to solar power, simply that such developments need to be located on land where they will not irretrievably damage a nationally important and designated landscape, teeming with wildlife.

“We have already seen the damage caused by the existing solar plant on the Gwent Levels, where a hugely important lapwing breeding site was destroyed. This must not be allowed to happen again.”

Gwent Wildlife Trust owns reserves throughout the area, including meadows, ancient woodland in the Wye Valley and unspoilt upland tracts of habitat.

One of the trust’s flagship reserves is Magor Marsh on the Gwent Levels.

South Wales Argus: One of the Gwent Wildlife Trust's reserves - Magor MarshOne of the Gwent Wildlife Trust's reserves - Magor Marsh

Mr Taylor added: “The Gwent Levels are an ancient landscape, rich in culture and important for biodiversity, recreation, flood alleviation, carbon storage and food production. They are now facing multiple, adjacent, enormous solar proposals and business parks as well as other development projects.

“The Welsh planning system in its present form is unable to control such development, and the destruction which these would cause under present arrangements would mean the end of this beautiful, fragile and complex wetland.

“We are calling for a halt to significant development and a coherent, legally binding plan put in place for the protection of this spectacular wetland and the wildlife it supports.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson told the Argus: “We are working on strategic planning guidance to protect the Gwent Levels from unacceptable biodiversity and landscape impacts.

“We are also updating national planning policy to ensure there is enhanced protection for all sites of special scientific interest.”