Paramount theme park on hold after discovery of rare jumping spiders

Developers behind the £2bn plans will have to ensure a good home for the creatures

Plans for a huge £2bn theme park just outside London have been put on hold after the discovery of a rare spider colony.

Developers hoped to complete Paramount park scheme - which aims to rival Disneyland Paris - by 2019, claiming it would be the third biggest theme park in the world.

The site they had in mind the Swanscombe Peninsula in Kent.

But an environmental audit has found that the patch is one of only who places in the UK home to the distinguished jumping spider.

The spiders are one of the few creatures that can live in the alkaline land created by the cement kiln dust produced by the former works on the site to the east of the Dartford Crossing.

London Resort Company Holdings, the consortium behind the theme park, will now have to find a new home for the colony.

Tony Sefton, project director for LRCH, yesterday said they will create a 27-acre wetland wildlife park at the attraction.

He said: "We will look after the spiders. We're doing a good thing.

"The alkaline land is dreadful for most forms of wildlife. But there is this particular spider that likes very alkaline conditions."

Dartford Borough Council leader Jeremy Kite said: "In the past we've moved fish, we've sent voles away on holiday; it's fairly common and protects them from building works. Then when they're finished they're brought back."

The only other UK home for the spiders are the West Thurrock marshes in Essex.

The spiders are on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species list, but the list is not legally binding.

This means the Joint Nature Conservation Committee have deemed the species is threatened and one that requires conservation action.

The park, supported by Paramount Pictures, will boast Europe’s largest indoor water park, theatres, live music venues, cinemas, restaurants, event space and hotels and, if given the green light, will be twice the size of Olympic Park in East London.

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