DEVELOPERS should steer clear of land on Canvey in the wake of devastating flooding in the north of the country, a concerned councillor has urged.
The island has long been seen as a flood risk, a fear backed up in a joint report published by the Environment Agency, Essex County Council, Anglian Water and Castle Point Council last month.
The report revealed an estimated £24.5 million of Government money is needed for an overhaul of the island’s drainage system and to protect homes.
Castle Point Council will be holding a crucial meeting next month on the new draft local plan, which sets out where 4,000 homes will be built across the borough over the next 20 years.
Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, believes flooding in Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire should remind councillors of the dangers of developing land at risk of flooding.
He said: “Developers should not be touching Canvey at all, and it’s time to say enough is enough.
“We’re dealing with something that nobody can predict here. People in power have very short memories, as flooding like this can happen without warning and is out of our control.
"It’s a heartbreaking situation for those poor people in Yorkshire who have been flooded for the second year in succession. Many of them were unable to get insurance to cover flooding, something that is already an issue for residents on Canvey.
“We shouldn’t be putting people at risk. Experts from Anglian Water has already stated that Canvey’s internal drainage is one of the worst they’ve seen.
“We need sensible development in Castle Point, and I hope this comes forward at the meeting next month.”
Norman Smith, chairman of the council’s task and finish group, which was formed to draw up the draft local plan, insists that development on flood risk land will only be completed as a last resort.
He said: “We do have a flood risk strategy, and there are stringent requirements should it come to the situation where development on land at risk of flooding has to be done. We are under pressure to build homes in the borough over the next 15 years.
“But it’s important to make clear that building on flood risk land is something that will only be considered if all other options are exhausted.”