CAMPAIGNERS are calling on the government to stop plans for a pair of controversial mega-prisons after their petition reached a signature goal.

The Stop Wethersfield Airfield Prisons (SWAP) campaign group are ramping up pressure on the Ministry of Justice to drop plans for the prison sat Wethersfield Airfield.

The Ministry of Justice aim to build the state-of-the-art prisons, which will house approximately 1,715, each, making up to 3,430 in total, on land which SWAP say is ripe for wildlife.

The group’s calls are now supported by a petition which has reached their goal of 10,000 signatures.

SWAP Chairman Alan MacKenzie said: “The Government is now compelled to respond to the petitioners.

“The point has been made that so many people in the area around the Wethersfield Airfield and beyond into the whole of the UK do not want the environmental and ecological destruction of the beautiful Essex countryside.

“The Petition has been supported by Chris Packham and many others.

“Some 74 species of birds, many Red-listed, nest nearby the Airfield and the area includes the only Diamond Jubilee wood planted in Essex comprising 75,000 trees and shrubs.

“The site also includes ancient woodland, as well as Great Crested Newts and rare orchids.

“Red-listed birds on the site include the European Turtle Dove, Northern Lapwing and Grey Partridge.

“The Government has been spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on consultants for an Environmental Impact Assessment which will only do to highlight the damage which will be caused.

SWAP also say it is clear the road system at the site will be unsustainable.

It comes as SWAP say Essex County Council has raised several concerns with the Ministry of Justice.

These include its remoteness from the strategic road network, poor connectivity to the strategic network via B-roads and unclassified roads, distance to rail stations and poor connections to key services.

Alan MacKenzie added: “SWAP is calling on the Ministry of Justice to review their consultants’ assessments now which will highlight the folly of this scheme and save them from continuing to waste huge amounts of taxpayers’ money.”