The Welsh Government's plans to build a six lane motorway through one of Wales' most important wildlife habitats may be unlawful, according to advice given to environmental charity Friends of the Earth.
Friends of the Earth Cymru has launched a judicial review of the new M4 plans , after the Government refused to reconsider the decision to build through the highly protected Gwent Levels wetlands.Welsh Transport Minister Edwina Hart approved plans for the £1 billion M4 relief road around Newport earlier this year.
But a judge will now examine whether the Welsh Government unlawfully limited the range of reasonable alternatives, by only considering a new motorway south of Newport and two similar variations. They will also consider if the plan's substantial damage to protected wildlife sites is permitted by law.
Environment groups, transport experts and business representatives have all opposed the new motorway, with fears it could damage Wales' environment and economy.
Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, Gareth Clubb said: "This motorway would cause massive damage to important and protected wildlife. We think the Welsh Government has acted unlawfully, and there are better transport options they've not properly considered. We're now asking a judge to decide whether the government is breaking the law.
"People from all walks of life have joined us in supporting alternatives, from business groups to political parties. Whether it's because of the huge expense, the better transport alternatives, or the environmental damage, many thousands of people in Wales are against this unnecessary and unaffordable road."