THE threat of toxic air pollution could scupper plans for a huge business park on Canvey.

The first phase of the park, off Roscommon Way, was approved last month, with the promise of creating 500 jobs.

It was expected to set a precedent for the second phase, on land opposite Morrisons, in Northwick Road, to be passed as well.

However, environmental health officers at Castle Point Council have called for the latest stage, which includes a hotel, car showroom, and industrial units, to be rejected due to concerns about damage to air quality on the island.

Alan Acott, Canvey Independent Party councillor for Canvey East, has urged the council’s planning committee to take the department’s report into consideration.

He said: “It’s something we should look at in detail, and it’sanew factor to consider in the whole application.

“A lot has been made about the lack of infrastructure, the fact the application would involve building on green belt and wildlife concerns. The fact the council is questioning the project’s effect on the health safety of residents makes it vital for us to look into it.”

Drew Watkins, environmental health officer, said building work and regular deliveries from lorries would pollute the air.

He said: “If the proposed development was permitted at the time, there would be an adverse impact upon local air quality, with initial impacts during the construction phase.

“It is believed the air quality would deteriorate further following occupation by new businesses, regular delivery vehicles and visitors to the site.

“This service would like to state it is supportive of sensible and sustainable development and advocates business within its borough. However, this cannot be at the cost to health of residents.”

Ray Howard, Tory councillor for Canvey West, has questioned the publication of the report 11 years after the Inner London Group purchased the land with outline planning permission.

He said he backed the scheme due to the large number of jobs it would create.

Mr Howard said: “I am passionate about bringing jobs to Canvey, and I believe this is exactly what the park would do.

“I am surprised to hear of the objection from environment health officers, as the sale of the land went through a long and thorough process when it was purchased by the developer.

“It had planning permission with it to build on 55 acres, which was subsequently reduced to 21 acres after wildlife was discovered there. I find it difficult to accept the report has arrived after so much time has passed.

“The environmental impact of the oil refinery that once stood there had a huge effect on public health, particularly with the smell of sulphur that used to go across the island. But since its closure, it’s no longer an issue.”