"Suit the action to the word, the word to the action" [1] should be the guide for all politicians and is especially apt in Wales at the moment.

Let me explain.   

Last week, I heard an excellent talk from Andy Fraser from the Welsh Government outlining the good things that have been happening in the Welsh Assembly lately...

...the Well-being of Future Generations Act which set public bodies in Wales seven goals including one to make a resilient Wales, with a biodiverse natural environment and healthy functioning ecosystems and another to create a globally responsible Wales with sustainable development at the heart of decision-making.

...the Environment (Wales) Act which established the principles of sustainable management of natural resources as the purpose of Natural Resources Wales (the Welsh statutory body for the environment) and introducing mandatory emission reduction targets for greenhouse gases in Wales of at least 80% by 2050.

All this sounds very seductive: biodiverse natural environments, healthy functioning ecosystems, sustainable development principles, reducing emissions and sustainable management of natural resources.

It is, therefore, highly disappointing that right now the Welsh Government is consulting on draft Orders to divert a six-lane motorway through the heart of the beautiful Gwent Levels. If the scheme gets the go ahead the M4 motorway will be directed straight through four Sites of Special Scientific Interest which protect vulnerable habitats and species such as the water vole, shrill carder bee as well lapwings, otters and the great silver water beetle.

Gwent Levels by David Wootton (rspb-images.com)

The Welsh Government is quick to congratulate itself for passing “world leading legislation” on well-being and the environment. And there is much to be admired. But we can’t measure a government on the words in legislation it passes. It has to be judged on its actions.

In spite of the progress made, highly damaging and wildly expensive projects like the M4 motorway diversion are still going ahead. If we’re truly thinking about the well-being of future generations and the environment then ploughing six lanes of tarmac through sites protected for nature shouldn't even be considered.

All is not lost. 

There is something that we can all do though. The Welsh Government is consulting on its M4 plans and anyone in the UK can ask for it to be cancelled. The RSPB is taking a lead and has produced an easy online tool to register your objection.

All you need to do is click here, add your details and personalise your response if you like. Thousands of people have already taken part and I hope you can spend just a minute of your time to add your voice. We want the Welsh Government to turn the fine words of its new legislation into tangible action and protect the unique Gwent Levels for nature and for future generations.

[1] From Hamlet, act 3, scene 2 to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare