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Thorpe Park | Project Exodus | Mack Hyper Coaster? (UK's tallest coaster) | 2023/2024

Rupert

Mega Poster
I work in a completely different industry but have to apply to the government for permissions for things every so often, and there is an aspect of ‘well we’ve got permission for this kind of thing before, let’s apply referencing our previous applications without putting in the full detail for this one’ in the hope that they approve it based on previous good form.

I’d agree with @JoshC. and @Hixee that Thorpe may have done this somewhat incomplete application especially with positive indications from the local authority, knowing that they may need to add to it along the way but better to start the process off and almost see what you can get away with. In a sense if you have gotten away with it before, or even better had it approved in a long term development plan even if out of date, why not try avoid the full rigmarole of a major environmental/flooding survey if you can. And if further action is required, it definitely doesn’t have to be a death knell for the coaster - any kind of flood risk can be engineered out, it’ll likely be a case of what the park tolerates in terms of cost and time required.
 

Niles

Hyper Poster
Thorpe Park Resort has released further documents in relation to the issues which remain open for project Exodus. Attraction Source have done a great breakdown of these documents, below are the shortened versions but for their full breakdown click here and for a look at the documents click here.

The Environment Agency objection was in respect of the potential flood risk at the proposed development site. Atkins, the environmental specialist engaged by Thorpe Park, have now submitted a revised Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) in response to the letter sent by the Environment Agency in June, a revised planning image showing the extent that Abbey Lake will be filled in once the ride moves from the construction phase to the operational phase has been added to the FRA.

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Natural England were another party with unresolved objections, after stating that the application could have potential significant effects on the South-West London Waterbodies SPA during the construction phase. Baker Consultants (ecology consultants) have prepared a ‘shadow HRA’ (sHRA) which has been added to the application to address these concerns.

The sHRA concludes that the distribution of the birds on site is primarily at sufficient distance from the works for noise and visual impacts to not have a significant adverse impact, and the CEMP will ensure that standard noise-limiting measures will be implemented during works, further reducing the potential for impacts. Silt curtains will be used to prevent any adverse impacts on water quality within the lake.

The sHRA notes that it is still anticipated that construction of the new rollercoaster will start in autumn/winter 2022/23, lasting a period of approximately 75 weeks.

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Surrey Wildlife Trust requested further details to substantiate the Biodiversity Net Gain proposals, as well as further information on the potential impacts, and proposed mitigation, on protected species and habitats. A Landscape and Ecology Management Plan (LEMP) has been prepared to address this, they have also undertook a tree-climbing survey on a tree they want to remove, it showed low roosting potential for bats, the tree will be felled in pieces under ecological supervision.

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The Ecological Impact Assessment has also been revised to incorporate the additional information requested by Surrey Wildlife Trust and Natural England, it includes additional description of the gravel pit inlet at the rollercoaster location and more detailed information and plans showing the winter bird distribution.

In brief Thorpe have not given up, the application is not on the agenda for discussion at this month’s Planning Committee meeting on 13th July 2022. Hopefully it will be on the next one in two months on 7th September 2022 in order to keep the application on track with the planned timeline.
 

spicy

Giga Poster
It can be a pain in the arse for us nerds but it's actually great to see the lengths we go to in this country to protect greenspace and wildlife.

This is true although you would think that some common sense would be applied. This is Thorpe Park it’s hardly a wild life sanctuary.

I’d understand it if some botanical gardens somewhere suddenly wanted to build a rollercoaster.
Surely a theme park should get some kind of special dispensation.
 

bob_3_

Giga Poster
This is Thorpe Park it’s hardly a wild life sanctuary.

I mean it's not... but is it a large open body of water with trees in a fairly well built up area, so it will pose as an important place for local wildlife. But yeah getting planning through in the UK is such a nightmare. Glad to see the effort to get this through is happening though! I think a lot of the time parks here play is as safe as possible to get it passed, for example when they bargained to return most of The Flume's site into natural woodland so they could build Wickerman. So to see Thorpe really push here shows they have faith in the project.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
It can be a pain in the arse for us nerds but it's actually great to see the lengths we go to in this country to protect greenspace and wildlife.
It’s a nice sentiment but I’m quite cynical - I think these things are often used as an excuse for Local Authorities to refuse projects that compete with their own commercial interests, or otherwise to quietly ask “what’s in it for us?” with their conduct and silently-demand some budget-enhancing sweetener in a non-disclosable form…

It’s interesting how discretion on these things can vary so dramatically depending on who’s land is being developed…

In reality though, I appreciate that there are always good eggs and bad eggs. Planning permission is often resisted for sensible environmental reasons.
 

toofpikk

Mega Poster
This is true although you would think that some common sense would be applied. This is Thorpe Park it’s hardly a wild life sanctuary.

There are a collection of designated special protection order areas literally exactly where they're planning Exodus. Thorpe is in Runnymede's greenbelt for 2030 so building stuff requries a few extra hurdles to be jumped regardless, but its hardly surprising that there is serious pushback for wild life when you look at the Runnymede planning maps.

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All the lakes surrounding thorpe are earmarked as Sites of nature conservation importance until 2030. The lake across from Monks Walk is an SSSI. As much as thorpe in itself is a bit of a tip, the surrounding area is actually vastly important for local wildlife. Common Sense suggests it may actually be seriously detrimental to all these allocated areas to have another big ride rattling about all day long.
 

Matt N

CF Legend
Why is it that practically every UK theme park is in some sort of green belt area or protected wildlife zone?

Do we have a lower quantity of vacant industrial land free of planning restrictions than the likes of the USA and Europe, or was this simply due to the chosen locations for UK theme parks?
 

Indy

Mega Poster
Why is it that practically every UK theme park is in some sort of green belt area or protected wildlife zone?

Do we have a lower quantity of vacant industrial land free of planning restrictions than the likes of the USA and Europe, or was this simply due to the chosen locations for UK theme parks?
You're certainly more limited on land than the US. To give a comparison, the state of Florida is roughly 6% larger than England. However, Florida's population is less than half (roughly 22 million) of England's (over 56 million). Furthermore, Florida has 60 operating coasters across 30 operating parks. England has 171 operating coasters across 101 operating parks. That provides a super brief look into the congestion of England versus Florida.

I get that it's probably annoying, but the methodical approach helps keep your country balanced and beautiful.
 

Tonkso

Mega Poster
I don't get the problem, shrinking biodiversity and climate change are of huge concern right now (and rightly so!). It's nothing but a positive that were making sure a habitat (albeit manmade) on the periphery of one of the world's major cities is protected and encouraged to flourish.

Rollercoasters aren't important, not in the grand scheme of things, and regardless it will still get built.
 

JoshC.

Strata Poster
I've only just looked through the updated plans myself now. And the one thing which jumps out at me, and something which I don't think has been stressed enough, is that - as far as I can see - nothing has changed. The updated flood risk assessment simply just makes it clearer what the park are doing.

These two images are from the updated flood risk assessment. As has been explained, the first is a look at how the lake will be infilled during construction, the second how it will be when the ride is open and operating.

Now here's a look at the two corresponding images that were including in the original assessment:
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Note how in each case, the first images are effectively identical, except for clearer colouring.

But compare the second images - the proposals for the land shaping during the operational phase. The latter example (so the one from the original flood risk assessment) makes it look like effectively all the land made during construction will be retained upon a first glance. But upon closer inspection, you can see the lines which will actually form the new boundary, and these match up exactly with the drawn boundaries in the new document. And indeed, if you look at all the values listed in this original document, this all makes sense too (image I have probably isn't high enough resolution to tell; feel free to check the original document too, if the link works: https://docs.runnymede.gov.uk/Publi...wDocument?id=BDE79AC3EF684DD6B701286D278B2630). And furthermore, this was clear from other images in the original documents as well.

Now here's the thing. These updates have made clarifications from the previous documents. But as I say, they haven't changed anything. And that's the kicker. If we go back to the last page, we discussed what the main concerns from the Environment Agency were. The key thing is Objection 1 that Hixee listed: Development is in the 'wrong type' of flood zone.

These updated documents make it clear that, during the operational phase of the roller coaster, there's very minimal development that will stay in the "wrong type of flood zone". But ultimately, there is still development in the wrong type of flood zone. The updated application seems to be sticking to the long-running story of "We have successfully managed to develop in these types of flood zones in the past, we have done this responsibly and this coaster is a continuation of such responsible development", and they've provided more evidence to support that. But it still doesn't seem to address the EA's primary concern that the development is happening there.

I don't want to be the part pooper, and as I have said time and time again, I am no expert on these things. But I really don't see these updated documents dramatically changing the EA's view, which ultimately was the key point and is the key stumbling block as it stands.
 
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