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BBC and ITV cut ties with London Resort theme park over environmental fears


The BBC and ITV have scrapped their involvement in plans to build the UK’s largest theme park over ongoing wildlife concerns.

Initial proposals to build the London Resort on the Swanscombe Peninsula had seen the broadcasters jump on board and sign image rights deals in the event the park went ahead.

The London Resort has been earmarked to be built on the Swanscombe Peninsula. Picture: EDF Energy

Under these plans rides at the multi-billion pound resort were due to feature some inspired by hit shows such as Thunderbirds, Doctor Who or Top Gear.

But green campaigners urged broadcasters to pull the plug on the deals after concerns were raised over its eco-credentials.

Last year the marshland where developers hope to build the £2.5bn attraction was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), as it is home to scores of rare species, including the jumping spider.

The status granted by Natural England – the government’s environmental advisory group – means any future plans must take into account the abundance of wildlife but does not preclude development from taking place.

BBC Studios, the commercial ventures arm of the corporation, has since confirmed it is no longer involved with the project.

A new detailed impression of what the London Resort theme park will look likeA new detailed impression of what the London Resort theme park will look like

A spokesman said: “BBC Studios has no commercial agreement in place with London Resort and no current plans to enter into any agreement.

“We would only consider doing so should there be clear and decisive evidence that the project would have a net positive environmental impact.”

An ITV spokesman also confirmed the channel’s intentions, adding: “ITV’s arrangement with the London Resort was that we were a potential licensor of one of our children’s brands, which was Thunderbirds.

“We can confirm that ITV no longer has a commercial arrangement with London Resort as the agreement has now ended. This means that Thunderbirds will not be a part of the park.”

Nearly 4,000 people signed an online petition started by local campaign group Save Swanscombe Peninsula urging the BBC to scrap their involvement.

Campaigner Donna Zimmer said the group was pleased both broadcasters had stepped away and hoped they would both now commit to “doing so for good”.

Campaigners are fighting plans to build a theme park on the Swanscombe Marshes. Photo: Save Swanscombe PeninsulaCampaigners are fighting plans to build a theme park on the Swanscombe Marshes. Photo: Save Swanscombe Peninsula

She said: “For local communities in Swanscombe, Greenhithe and Northfleet, the Peninsula is an essential and much-loved green lung, a place for peace and calm to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life in one of the most built-up and congested parts of the country.

Local Green Party councillor Laura Edie added: “It simply didn’t make sense that on the one hand the BBC are producing ground-breaking documentaries on climate change, whilst at the same time being associated with a project with plans to concrete over a nature oasis.”

Insect charity Buglife, which had also been involved in the campaign, welcomed the decision.

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of Buglife, said: “The theme of this wildlife oasis is nature and it must remain so.”

“We welcome ITV Studios’ full recognition of the environmental harm this misplaced theme park would cause and its commitment to have no future involvement.

“It’s great that BBC Studios has also withdrawn from the scheme, although a long-term commitment to never become involved would fit better with the BBC Studios’ image and environmental sustainability claims.

London Resort recently tweeted this image of the planned parkLondon Resort recently tweeted this image of the planned park

However, he added that the group was disappointed Paramount – which is understood to still have ties with the project – had not yet responded to requests to reconsider its involvement.

The London Resort project originally involved the American film and TV company which had lent its name to the park before withdrawing in 2017.

It later came back on board and developers acquired the necessary licences to still have rides based on Paramount Pictures’ films.

If built, the theme park will be the first European development of its kind to be built from scratch since the opening of Disneyland Paris in 1992.

It will feature two theme park gates, a water park, conference and convention centre and e-Sports facilities.

Next month a long-awaited preliminary meeting will take place on the examination of the bid.

It follows months of delays and pushbacks with the Planning Inspectorate setting a final deadline of March 15 for London Resort bosses to submit final evidence ahead of the meeting.

But environmental campaigners have raised more than £50,000 to protect the Swanscombe Peninsula and cover legal bills to fight against the development proposals.

A spokesman for London Resort said: “Nobody ever said major infrastructure projects were easy or quick. We look forward to delivering the first top tier theme park for the UK.”