A group of environmental campaign groups have called on the government to confirm legal protection for a threatened nature site in London.
In 2012, developers made proposals for a new theme park on 216 hectares of land on the Swanscombe Peninsula in north Kent.
The Peninsula is home to over 200 rare and threatened invertebrate species and various rare plants.
The importance of the Swanscombe Peninsula for nature was recognised by Natural England in March when it notified this area as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). However, the site will not get full legal protection until the title is officially confirmed
Buglife, the RSPB, Kent Wildlife Trust and CPRE Kent are urging the government to swiftly confirm the area as an SSSI in order to help halt the development.
The campaigners state that the development proposals are contrary to the Government’s commitments to create a Nature Recovery Network (NRN) and to protect 30% of the UK for wildlife by 2030.
Nick Bruce-White, RSPB operations director, Southern England at RSPB said: ‘This theme park must not take precedence over the species and habitats that it threatens; the developers must withdraw their application.
‘We also find it inappropriate that a theme park has been deemed a “Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project”, a status normally reserved for major roads, airports or power plants, that may allow it to bypass many of the normal planning requirements.
‘If the SSSI is confirmed, and the development is still consented, it will be one of the largest ever single losses of nationally protected habitat in the UK, including the direct loss of over 100 hectares of SSSI land. We cannot allow this to happen; that’s why we’re calling on the Government to confirm the designation as soon as possible.’
The campaign groups are asking people to support the ‘Save Swanscombe Marshes’ campaign by adding their names to the 24,682 people who have already signed the petition to protect the site: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/no-fun-for-nature-save-swanscombe-marshes
Photo Credit – WWF