Aimee-Ffion Edwards has pledged her support for a campaign to save the wild wetlands of the Gwent Levels from being destroyed by a new motorway.

After hearing about the campaign from Gwent Wildlife Trust (GWT), Newport-born actress Aimee-Ffion recorded the much-loved poem Leisure by W.H Davies at Monmouth’s legendary Rockfield Studios. She warns that the proposed new M4 “will cut through the heart of this historic landscape.” Aimee’s voice can be heard over film footage showing the beauty and the wildlife of the Gwent Levels.

With just weeks until Assembly Members take a vote on the scheme, Aimee-Ffion and Gwent Wildlife Trust are appealing to decision-makers to take time to consider the beauty of the Gwent Levels and its value to the people of Wales. The Welsh poem’s famous lines, “What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare” are written on a bronze statue of the ‘Supertramp’ poet in central Newport. It warns of the effect of hectic modern life on the human spirit – that if we do not take time to observe and enjoy the natural world around us, our lives will be the poorer.

Aimee-Ffion Edwards at Gwent Wildlife Trust’s Magor Marsh Nature Reserve
Image © Hugh Gregory

Aimee-Ffion, star of Peaky Blinders and The Detectorists, narrated the poem over breathtaking footage of some of the wonderful and rare wildlife found on the proposed route of the road, such as otters, water voles and cranes. This footage was all captured on the threatened Gwent Levels by GWT trustee and volunteer Rob Waller and filmmaker Neil Aldridge with everyone involved in creating the 3-minute film donating their time and skills to the campaign.

Actress Aimee-Ffion was recently reminded of the beauty of the area she often visited as a child when she took time out from her busy schedule to visit the Gwent Levels and Magor Marsh Nature Reserve with Gwent Wildlife Trust this month. She said:

“W.H Davies’ words are so apt at this time. Coming from Pill, Newport, I’m sure he would have spent time enjoying the very landscape that is now under threat and this would have inspired his poetry. The Gwent Levels is such a special and enchanting place, full of wildlife, history and culture. Building a new M4 motorway through it will not solve anything. It would simply destroy something we should all be proud of and cherish, not just for its wildlife but for the people and the city of Newport and the rest of Wales.

“I urge people to join the fight to save the Gwent Levels while they still have the chance and hope that decision-makers honour their commitment to protect Wales’ natural environment for future generations.”

A decision to be made with the heart as well as the mind

Gwent Wildlife Trust urges everyone involved in decisions over the proposed new M4 to watch the film and have sent it to every Welsh Assembly Member ahead of their vote.

Gwent Wildlife Trust’s chief executive Ian Rappel said:

“This is a decision to be made with the heart as well as the mind. The rational arguments against the M4 extension were made very loud and clear at the Public Inquiry. Alternative, sustainable transport solutions have been proposed by the Welsh Government’s own Future Generations Commissioner for Wales – Sophie Howe, in the Transport Fit for Future Generations Report. This film has been made to encourage deep and serious consideration, from the heart, about what the scheme will do to people who live near or visit this stunning and increasingly fragile area. With the Gwent Levels seeing, really is believing. We want as many people as possible to see the film and what would be lost with the creation of a new M4 motorway.”

Mr Rappel added: “We want people to be able to visit and enjoy the Gwent Levels now and for future generations. For this to happen everyone must take action by telling Carwyn Jones, The Welsh Government and Assembly Members to scrap plans for a new M4 through the Gwent Levels before it is too late.”

The Welsh Government wants to build a 14-mile six lane motorway through the protected Gwent Levels including part of Gwent Wildlife Trust’s Magor Marsh Nature Reserve. Gwent Wildlife Trust are delighted to have Aimee-Ffion’s support at this critical time in the campaign to stop the scheme going ahead.

People can get involved with the #SaveTheGwentLevels e-campaign and send an email of objection to First Minister Carwyn Jones here: https://action.wildlifetrusts.org/page/30798/action/1

They can get involved with Campaign Against the Levels Motorway (CALM) https://savethelevels.org.uk/ and take part in the #NoNewM4 petition here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-proposed-m4 and contact their Assembly Member to voice opposition here: https://act.friendsoftheearth.uk/act/no-new-m4-dim-m4-newydd

There will also be a #NoNewM4  #SaveTheGwentLevels rally outside the Senedd steps in Cardiff Bay on December 4. Find more details about the rally here: https://www.facebook.com/events/362677067631967/permalink/364912404075100/

Transport Fit For Future Generations Report, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales https://futuregenerations.wales/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/20180912-Transport-Fit-for-Future-Generations-C-1.pdf

gwentwildlife.org

Header image © RostonGale / Shutterstock