Tiny spider just 1cm long leads to the BBC and ITV pulling out of plans for a £3.5billion theme park dubbed ‘UK Disneyland’ after protest by nature groups over area’s unique variety of wildlife
- The London Resort will be on the banks of the Thames in Swanscombe, Kent
- Was going to feature rides from BBC shows such as Doctor Who and Top Gear
- Would also have featured ITV’s Thunderbirds but broadcasters have pulled out
- Fears of environmental impact, including on distinguished jumping spider
A tiny spider just 1cm long has led to the BBC and ITV pulling out of plans for a £3.5billion theme park dubbed ‘UK Disneyland’.
The London Resort – on the banks of the Thames in Swanscombe, Kent – was due to feature rides inspired by hit BBC shows such as Doctor Who, Top Gear and Sherlock as well as ITV’s Thunderbirds.
But a backlash from nature lovers over the environmental impact of the park – especially on the distinguished jumping spider – has killed off both broadcasters’ interest in the scheme.
The critically endangered spider is found in just one other part of the UK.
A tiny spider just 1cm long has led to the BBC and ITV pulling out of plans for a £3.5billion theme park dubbed ‘UK Disneyland’
The 1,150-acre (465-hectare) theme park would be Britain’s biggest but now faces an uncertain future following the broadcasters’ exit.
Nature lovers launched an online campaign to get the BBC to drop its support, with the group Save Swanscombe Peninsula insisting the plan was ‘in direct conflict’ with its green credentials.
In November last year, the former industrial area was declared a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) due to its unique variety of wildlife. Natural England said it is home to more than 1,700 invertebrate species – including a quarter of the UK’s water beetles.
Yesterday BBC Studios, the commercial ventures arm of the corporation, confirmed it was no longer involved with the project.
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 added: ‘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.’
The London Resort – on the banks of the Thames in Swanscombe, Kent – was due to feature rides inspired by hit BBC shows such as Doctor Who, Top Gear and Sherlock as well as ITV’s Thunderbirds
Insect charity Buglife welcomed the broadcasters’ decisions to pull out, saying: ‘The theme of this wildlife oasis is nature and it must remain so.’
Chief executive Matt Shardlow said: ‘We welcome ITV’s full recognition of the environmental harm this misplaced theme park would cause.’
He added that it was ‘great’ the BBC has also withdrawn but called for ‘a long-term commitment to never become involved’.
The theme park – were it to go ahead – would be split into six themed lands including a blockbuster warehouse district, a fairytale land, an Arthurian kingdom and a sci-fi ‘starport’.
Last year, the park revealed plans for an area dedicated to dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures featuring the fastest rollercoaster in Europe, capable of reaching 70mph speeds.
The London Resort would also offer a water park, three hotels and a shopping district.
A spokesman 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.’