ISLANDERS have demanded a robust evacuation strategy is in place in the event of a nuclear disaster before a commitment to build 200 more homes is signed off.

Fresh proposals in Colchester Council’s Local Plan would see the new houses built on Mersea over the next 16 years.

But campaigners want assurances a strategy is in place to get all residents off of the island in case there was a radiation emergency from the mooted new nuclear power station across the River Blackwater in Bradwell.

Pressure group STOP350 has written to Colchester Council’s chief executive Adrian Pritchard to ask the council how they would be helped off the island in the event of an emergency.

It said: “A new nuclear power station will be constructed at Bradwell, and it is obvious the result will be to substantially increase the risk of a radiation emergency particularly to the community of Mersea Island which is only four kilometres from the proposed site.

“It is logical for Colchester Council to anticipate such an occurrence and urgently create an updated off-site emergency plan.

“It is obvious any emergency plan must include comprehensive and well thought out proposals for the mass evacuation of the entire population of Mersea Island, via a single two lane highway regularly flooded at high tides.

“Before any consideration can be given to planning proposal in the Local Plan the Secretary of State must be in a position to review the Council’s off-site emergency plan specifically in relation to a radiation emergency and the inevitable off-site consequences.”

Initial blueprints would have seen 350 homes built on the island, but the number was scaled back after an initial consultation involving residents and local councillors.

The original nuclear power station has now been partly decommissioned but EDF Energy has signed a deal with China General Nuclear Power Corporation for “Bradwell B”, a greenfield site next to the former station.

The Chinese company will provide two thirds of the development costs of Bradwell B and hopes to begin construction by 2023.

STOP350 has attracted close to 1,000 members and campaigned against housing numbers planned for Mersea by travelling to a Local Plan meeting in convoy with placards.

Chairman John Akker said: “it cannot be right the council has made no allowance for Bradwell B in its Local Plan.

“With such a large increase planned in the island's population evacuation has to be properly considered.

“At the moment 200 houses are currently planned in addition to the infilling that will give combined total of at least 290 in the planning period.”

The council’s Local Plan document says a flooding evactuation plan is being created, and any nuclear strategy would be similar.

It said: “The decision about any future development at Bradwell Nuclear Power Station will be taken by central Government via the infrastructure planning commission.

“It is not an issue for Colchester’s Local Plan.

“The council’s emergency planning team is currently preparing an evacuation plan for Mersea in the event of a major flood event but they have confirmed the principles embedded in this document for evacuation will be applicable for any type of evacuation needed.”