A MAJOR underground gas pipe has been found under fields earmarked for more than 2,000 homes, sparking fears of explosions.
Campaigners have called for development plans for land in Dunton to be scrapped fearing lives could be put at risk.
The site has been allocated for 1,000 homes in the next 20 years in Basildon’s draft Local Plan, with neighbouring fields set to take a further 1,350 homes in the future.
A National Grid pipeline, routed around the edge of Basildon to avoid major settlements, has been discovered underneath the fields, sparking safety concerns.
Danny Lovey, of the Basildon Green Action Group, believes the land, labelled as site H10, should be scrapped from the Local Plan.
He said: “When they were built, the pipelines were deliberately routed away and around built-up areas because of the potential for accidents and explosions that would threaten loss of lives, major injuries and the devastation of communities.
“This is yet another good reason why neither H10 in Basildon’s local plans or Brentwood’s proposed Dunton Garden Village should be allowed to be developed, as any rupture, either deliberate, or accidental, would likely bring about a massive explosion with a possible loss of many lives and homes.”
The 3ft-wide pipeline comes from the north-east coast of Norfolk, running through Dunton, past Horndon-on-theHill and south, into Kent.
Site H10 could combine with land the other side of the borough boundary, in Brentwood, to form a Dunton Garden Suburb of up to 6,000 homes.
A Basildon Council spokesman said: “The council is aware of the existence of the pipeline.
“It is largely in the Brentwood borough and enters site H10 at the south west corner.
“Indeed, Policy H10 recognises the pipeline as a potential constraint.
“This means any housing development on the site would need to provide open spaces and other green infrastructure to ensure the development is not inappropriately located in relation to the gas pipeline.”
Basildon Council insists it would follow Health and Safety Executive guidance about the proximity of homes to pipelines.
The spokesman added: “Owing to the location of the pipeline, close to the site boundary, it is possible to meet the requirements of the guidance without placing residential development at risk.”
Standing for election: Derrick Fellowes and Philip Gibbs
UKIP CHOICE WILL 'UNDERMINE CAMPAIGN GROUP'
THE leaders of a green belt campaign group have been accused of undermining their cause by declaring they will stand as Ukip councillors.
At last week’s annual meeting of the Residents Against Inappropriate Development group, which is campaigning against plans for 6,000 homes between Basildon and Brentwood, committee members Philip Gibbs and Derrick Fellowes were both re-elected to their roles.
They later revealed they will stand for Ukip in May’s Basildon Council elections.
Group member Danny Lovey believes the information should have been disclosed sooner.
He said: “The whole thing was deceitful and the last five minutes of the meeting turned into a party political exercise.”
“You will always have people of all political persuasions, but the thing to do is to focus on what you are trying to do.
“The group should be seen as nonpolitical, but unfortunately it has declared for Ukip and you can’t separate one from the other.
“If it attaches itself to Ukip and is screaming at the Conservatives in the council chamber, it will be much more likely the Tories dismiss it as a Ukip campaign and resist it, than if it was bipartisan and neutral.”
In a post on the group’s Facebook page, Mr Fellowes said: “I am aware this might not sit comfortably with some of you, but all I can say is give us a chance to continue to fight for our communities.”
Mr Fellowes will seek election in Nethermayne, while Mr Gibbs will stand in Langdon Hills.
Ukip group leader Linda AllportHodge said: “Both prospective candidates have worked extremely hard over the past year representing residents’ views in opposition to the Dunton Garden Suburb proposal.”