Developers hoping to build a £2.5bn theme park on a wildlife haven have challenged the site’s protected status.
London Resort claims Natural England is attempting to “frustrate” its plans to build on Swanscombe Peninsula in Kent.
The area was protected as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), due to its “enormous value as a green space and refuge” for people and wildlife.
Conservationists said the objection was a “transparent” attempt to undermine the ecological importance of the site.
An examination of plans to build the complex – including two theme parks and four hotels – has been delayed while developers update plans in response to the protected status.
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”.