FLOOD sirens providing an early warning system for coastal residents will be scrapped.

Essex County Council has branded the system, which costs more than £16,000 a year to run, out of date.

There are 36 flood sirens across the county, including nine on Canvey and one at South Benfleet Police Station, off the High Road.

The sirens were due to become obsolete by 2014, but it is understood they will now stop being used in the next few weeks.

Instead, residents will rely on the Environment Agency’s early warning system, which includes text messages, e-mail alerts and automated telephone calls. But this only covers 83 per cent of people who live in flood risk areas.

Canvey coastguard Mick Allwood said: “I preferred the old siren system, as it provided warning to everyone not a select few.

“The coastguards would use our local knowledge to judge when there was a danger of flooding and if necessary ask the Environment Agency to set off the sirens.

“For example we know that north easterly winds make the tide surge in this area. If that’s combined with heavy rain you could have a problem.

“Having said that we’ll still alert the Environment Agency to any flood risks and they’ll have to use the new system instead.”

Tory county councillor and flooding expert Ray Howard vowed to fight to retain Canvey’s sirens.

He said: “I’m not at all happy about this decision and still plan to fight it.

“Computers can go wrong and the sirens are a much more reliable warning system.”

Tracey Chapman, county councillor responsible for the environment, said: “The Environment Agency has worked hard to deliver a much-improved flood warning system, and we can now expect at least 12 hours notice of an impending flood.”