A campaign has been launched to ‘Save Swanscombe Marshes’ from the threat of the London Resort, the £5bn mega theme park planned to be built right on top of the treasured wildlife site.
Environmental campaigners say the plans will “destroy and concrete” much of the unique habitat in the marshes, ‘killing the wildlife riches’ enjoyed by local people away from the hustle and bustle of North Kent and south east London.
Billed as the UK’s answer to Disneyland, the London Resort is due to become the biggest theme park in the country, built across 535 acres on the Swanscombe Peninsula in Dartford.
In the works for over 10 years, new images, plans and designs were revealed by the developers late last month showing vast plans for two twin theme park resorts with ambitious rides, 3,500 hotel, ferry terminals to transport guests and a high street.
But environmental protestors are raising complaints against the multi-million pound resort, which they say is unnecessary and ill-advised.
First created when plans for the park first emerged, the ‘Save Swanscombe Marshes’ campaign has now returned, urging the secretary of state to reject the theme park’s planning application and save the site.
Wildlife group Buglife have sparked the campaign, and their petition against the theme park has already gathered nearly 3,000 signatures in just over a day.
The campaigners say the Swanscombe Peninsula is home to thousands of species, including over 250 invertebrate species which are rare and under threat.
These range from bees, butterflies, beetles, lizards and birds, and even the jumping spider, just one of two places in the UK where you can find the critically endangered species.
The urban wilderness contains grasslands, coastal habitats, brownfield features, scrub and wetlands, making it a ‘nationally-important’ wildlife site’.
“But all of this is now threatened by the proposed London Resort theme park,” says Paul Hetherington, who created the campaign.
“Hyped as the ‘UK’s Disneyland’, much of the unique habitat of Swanscombe Marshes would be destroyed and concreted.
“The wildlife riches of the site simply will not survive this development.
“At a time when the value of wildlife and open spaces is being appreciated more than ever and amid a biodiversity crisis, we urge the Secretary of State to reject this unnecessary and ill thought out application.”
The campaign adds: “Swanscombe Marshes is not just important for wildlife. The site has been enjoyed by local people for years for walking, bird watching, angling and escaping the hustle and bustle of North Kent.”
If the plans go ahead, the first theme park site will open its doors in 2024, with the other coming five years later, marking the first European development of its kind sinc Disneyland Paris in 1992.
The resort was first announced in 2012, and since then the road has been far from smooth with budget worries, sponsors pulling out and the park originally planned to open in 2019, but the developers have today launched its online public consultation.
Economically, the park promises to create 9,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect ones within the first year of opening, and nearly doubling after 15 years.
The new plans reveal “a new vision, exciting content, environmental enhancements and economical benefits.
In response to environmental complaints, the developers say the park will create a ‘green network of amenity areas and parkland’ to benefit the local environment.
They say a large proportion of the peninsula landscape will remain undeveloped, instead enhanced for wildlife with natural features seamlessly integrated into the theme park’s designs.
“It will generate multi-billion-pound investment, thousands of jobs, and will transform a largely brownfield site into one of the most exciting entertainment destinations in the world,” said CEO PY Gerbeau.
Buglife Planning Lead, Jamie Robins, added: “Brownfields like Swanscombe Marshes are some of the most important places in the country for invertebrates.
The London Resort Theme Park would be No Fun for Nature. Buglife wants to protect this wildlife haven from an unnecessary and ill-thought development, saving it for future generations to enjoy.
If you’d like to sign the petition, click here.