Wildlife charities call for withdrawal of major theme park planning application after Swanscombe Marshes is awarded special protection status
Wildlife charities are calling for the withdrawal of the London Resort theme park planning application that would destroy a nationally important wildlife site in north Kent, after the site was awarded special conservation protection today (10 November) by unanimous vote of the Natural England Board.
Swanscombe Marshes, which sits on the bank of the River Thames, has now received confirmation of official designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England – the Government’s adviser for the natural environment in England.
SSSI status recognises that the marshes are of high conservation value and are of particular interest to science due to the wildlife and plant species that are found there.
RSPB, Buglife, CPRE Kent, Kent Wildlife Trust and Save Swanscombe Peninsula are working together to fight the building of the London Resort Theme Park by London Resort Company Holdings, on the marshes.
The marshes being confirmed as a SSSI is another stepping-stone in the fight against this proposed colossal entertainment development, which would concrete over this vital wildlife habitat, meaning that much of this site would be lost forever.
The decision to award SSSI protection status is particularly timely during COP26, as more than ever, the importance of protecting the environment and natural spaces like Swanscombe Marshes is key when the world is facing a nature and climate emergency.
The wildlife charities say the site, which consists of a remarkable mosaic of grasslands, coastal habitats, scrub and wetlands, is home to a staggering amount of wildlife. This includes over 2,000 species of invertebrate, including the critically endangered distinguished jumping spider, found at only one other site in the UK, the sea aster mining bee, brown-banded carder bee and saltmarsh shortspur beetle.
Swanscombe supports an outstanding number of breeding birds, comparable with the best sites in England, including the elusive grasshopper warbler, nightingale, cuckoo, marsh harrier and black redstart. It is also home to rare plants such as the endangered Man orchid, as well as bats, otters, reptiles and water voles.
Jamie Robins, Projects Manager at Buglife, said: “We welcome the great news that Natural England has taken the crucial step of confirming Swanscombe Marshes as a SSSI. This should dispel any notion that it should be anything but a haven for nature and the local community. We urge the London Resort to look elsewhere to build their theme park, as in a biodiversity and climate crisis, it cannot be justified to concrete over one of our finest wildlife sites.“