A plan to cut down 66 acres of forest — nearly 15,000 trees — to make space for a solar farm at Six Flags Great Adventure is forging ahead.
The theme park has won approval from the Jackson Township planning board to proceed with the project. It had already secured other approvals for the project from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Board of Public Utilities, and the Ocean County Planning Board.
(Although the DEP issued Six Flags a minor permit, the department opposes the project, because it would clear an undisturbed part of the forest. Lacking jurisdiction over the area, DEP previously offered to buy the land from Six Flags in order to stop the project and preserve the land.)
“We will become the world’s first solar-powered theme park,” according to a park statement. “Clean energy is right for the environment and our future, and this project is a giant step toward becoming a net-zero carbon theme park.”
Six Flags said the project will not harm habitats or endangered species in the forest area.
But environmentalists countered that it is hypocritical to cut down so many trees in the name of clean energy.
“You don’t do it at the expense of the environment. It’s good to be green, but you can’t destroy a 70-acre forest to go green,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “You don’t go green with a chainsaw.”
A lawsuit filed by several environmental groups to stop the project is ongoing.
Part of the solar farm will be built above the employee parking lot. Six Flags decided not to construct the solar farm above the sprawling visitors’ parking lot, an idea backed by some environmentalists.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the position of the NJ DEP.