Great news for the wildlife of Swanscombe Peninsula (so far)

Swanscombe saved – for now. But campaigners stress the fight is not over. - Buglife

Swanscombe protest walk to save the SSSI (c) Richard Bayfield
Swanscombe protest walk to save the SSSI (c) Richard Bayfield

Plans to build a theme park in North Kent on top of 100ha of a nationally important wildlife site have been withdrawn at the eleventh hour by the applicant – but the fight to save this haven of biodiversity is far from over.

Proposals for the ‘London Resort’ theme park to be built on the Swanscombe Peninsula – a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – was met with shock and anger from local campaigners and national wildlife charities. Following over a year of discussions, protests and petitions, London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) has finally withdrawn its application. However, they plan to resubmit the application for development later in the year; so wildlife charities are continuing to call on the government to do everything it can to step in and save the nature haven.

Buglife, CPRE Kent, The RSPB and Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) have been working together to stand up for the site’s outstanding wildlife, alongside local campaign group, Save Swanscombe Peninsula SSSI. Together, they were preparing for the Nationally Significant Infrastructure (NSIP) examination which was due to start today and outline a six month examination, but the withdrawal has once again pushed their frequently delayed plans further down the road.

Nicky Britton-Williams, Wilder Towns Officer at Kent Wildlife Trust: “We are thrilled that London Resort have finally withdrawn their application but the Swanscombe Peninsula isn’t safe yet. It is unbelievable that in a period of climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, that this SSSI site, and all the nature and wildlife it supports, is still under threat. Until the NSIP status is withdrawn and the site put under the management of responsible wildlife charities, this urban oasis of wildlife remains at risk and we, and our partners, will do all we can to protect it.”

The Swanscombe Peninsula is incredibly rich in wildlife, home to some of the UK’s most threatened species of plants and animals. Over 2,000 species of insects and other invertebrates have been recorded here, including the Critically Endangered distinguished jumping spider. It is also the richest site for breeding birds in the South East, living side-by-side with otters, water voles and rare plants such as the man orchid.

This amazing diversity is thanks to this site’s remarkable mosaic of grasslands, coastal habitats, scrub and intricate wetlands, much of which is brownfield habitat that has been reclaimed by nature. In recognition of its valuable wildlife, it was designated a SSSI last year by Natural England, the national body responsible for wildlife. SSSIs like the Swanscombe Peninsula are the backbone of the UK’s protected sites network. They include our best habitats and are essential to protecting wildlife and supporting healthy ecosystems.

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Posted On: 30/03/2022

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