Council supports Thorpe Park over new rollercoaster

Thorpe Park Project Exodus rollercoaster

Runnymede Borough Council (RBC) has written a supportive letter to the Environment Agency (EA) over Thorpe Park’s proposed new rollercoaster.

The EA is objecting to the park’s proposals for what would be the UK’s tallest, and potentially fastest, rollercoaster.

The agency’s concerns relate to the ride’s site – replacing the former Loggers Leap flume – being within a flood zone.

RBC said in a letter dated 12 September that the basis for the EA’s objection was not consistent with previous decisions made by the agency in relation to developments at the Surrey theme park.

A final decision has not yet been made, but the move by RBC is seen as indicating their desire to approve planning permission for the ride.

The EA’s primary objection is based on the fact that the proposed ‘Project Exodus’ ride is located within a designated flood zone.

RBC said that the EA had consistently not objected to planning permission for developments at Thorpe Park between 2010 and 2018, based on flooding being appropriately considered.

Project Exodus, Thorpe Park rollercoaster
The proposed ride is dubbed ‘Project Exodus’ and is expected to be built by German’s Mack Rides

‘Previously agreed process’

RBC argues that an existing ‘flood compensation scheme’ provides methodology that has consistently and repeatedly been accepted by the EA for Thorpe Park’s developments in recent years.

The council said that there was “an agreed process” in Thorpe Park’s ability to “offset new development” against the compensation scheme.

It added that the “manner in which it was calculated” was “also agreed” by the EA in previous planning applications.

The EA’s position is effectively that the ride cannot be built in its current location unless the park proves that all other potential sites within its land are of greater risk.

The agency has quoted regulations by which RBC would need to refer the matter to the UK government rather than unilaterally granting permission despite unresolved EA objections.

Meanwhile Lichfields, planners acting for Thorpe Park’s operators Merlin Entertainments, have said that further delays could compromise plans for the ride to be completed for the 2024 season.

“The proposed rollercoaster application is critical to the recovery of Thorpe Park post-Covid,” a briefing note dated 16 September read.

“It is important that the determination of the application is not delayed further as
Merlin needs to commit to construction contracts to ensure that the ride can open for 2024.”