The environment is at stake, as Welsh Government is failing to act on its own legislation to protect and enhance the environment for future generations – we won’t lie down as our natural treasures are bulldozed.
We at the Woodland Trust have been keen to highlight the oversights that Ken Skates (Minister for Economy and Infrastructure) has made as a number of infrastructure projects have posed a threat to irreplaceable ancient woodlands.
The Welsh Government has stood out amongst its UK counterparts with landmark regs in the Environment Act, the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and Planning Policy (Wales), but the rhetoric of these policies are not being met with reality.
Planning Policy (Wales) states:
‘Ancient and semi-natural woodlands are irreplaceable habitats of high biodiversity value which should be protected from development that would result in significant damage.’ (para 5.2.9)
Despite the claim to protect ancient woodland in Planning Policy (Wales) little action has been taken to do so. In fact, many of the UK's threatened ancient woodlands are in Wales, vulnerable from schemes directly derived from Welsh Government policy.
The M4 extension around Newport will harm four ancient woodland sites, not to mention the unique Gwent levels habitat. Despite countless objections to its impact from local residents, environmental organisations, and the significantly lower costs and impacts by other proposed routes, the Welsh Government has ploughed ahead with an expensive, destructive and potentially illegal scheme.