The London Resort developers have challenged the protected status of the Swanscombe Peninsula in the latest twist in the battle to build a £5bn mega-theme park in north Kent.

Dubbed the UK's answer to Disneyland, the London Resort is one of Europe's most ambitious theme park projects ever and planned to be built on the Swanscombe Marshes, the twin-park could be three times the size of any other resort in the country.

But the site, thought of as a wildlife haven, was recently declared to be a Site of Special Interest by Natural England, a motion The London Resort have now opted to fight.

The objections centre around Natural England's "lack of seasoned judgements" and "failure to take a reasonable and proportionate approach", plus the ecological survey data relied upon to make the decision.

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Conservationists said the objection was a "transparent" attempt to undermine the ecological importance of the site.

In its objection, London Resort alleges Natural England has taken a "blanket" approach, covering most of the peninsula within the SSSI, in an attempt to "frustrate the [planning] application, rather than to protect and safeguard areas".

The developers claim Natural England are simply attempting to "frustrate" their plans to build the resort, despite wildlife surveys from 2020 "substantially weakening the case" for the site being a SSSI.

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But Jamie Robins, of invertebrate charity Buglife, described the objection as a "transparent PR effort that misrepresents the data of their own wildlife surveys".

"London Resort are promoting the idea that they are saving wildlife when the reality couldn't be further from the truth."

Save Swanscombe Peninsula, a campaign group opposing the development, added: "London Resort are showing their true colour by now objecting to Natural England's SSSI designation which would protect the habitat and rare wildlife."

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The plans have long been under fire from environmentalists due to the marshes' "rich diversity of wildlife", including the presence of a critically endangered jumping spider.

Following a campaign earlier this year, the marshes were declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England, making it harder for development plans to pass through.

In response, the CEO of the London Resort Holdings Ltd, PY Gerbeau, tweeted out revealing they were asking for a delay.

And in May, the developers were granted an abnormal four-month delay to prepare for a government review and make adjustments following the update.