Flood warning sirens along the Essex coast are axed

Flood warning sirens in Essex will no longer be used to warn people living along the coast of an emergency.

The county council said it was an outdated system that would have cost £76,000 a year to continue to use.

Since 1992, Essex, along with Norfolk and Lincolnshire County Councils, have funded the sirens.

In 1996 responsibility for flood warning passed to the Environment Agency which now contacts those at risk by telephone.

The council said the Environment Agency and the police would not authorise the use or sounding of sirens, as it believed the modern warning system was more effective.

Not fit for purpose

It said because both Norfolk and Lincolnshire had given notice they were withdrawing from the sirens contract, Essex would have been left solely responsible for annual costs of around £76,000.

Councillor Tracey Chapman, cabinet member for Environment and Waste, said: "In the current financial climate it would be extremely irresponsible of Essex County Council to continue to use a system that our partners believe to be no longer fit for purpose.

"We also need to consider what is really important and that is the safety of our residents.

"To rely on the sirens to warn and inform when there are more effective measures out there is foolish and could, at worst, place lives at risk."

Essex's chief fire officer and head of Essex County Council's emergency planning team, David Johnson, said: "The Environment Agency provides a range of free services to mitigate the risk of flooding.

"Combining these with the advances in 24-hour news provision, mobile communication systems, the internet and the work of the Met Office we now have an early warning framework which is far more advanced and effective than the legacy of the sirens.

"It is a sensible decision for Essex County Council to end this contract and consign the sirens to the history books."

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