CAMPAIGNERS have lashed out at Thurrock Council for failing to help more than 40 horses left grazing on flood-hit land.

Thurrock Council has told the owner to move the horses from the land it owns in the Mardyke Valley from Davy Down to Ship Lane.

The horses have been left on the land, a flood plain, but conditions have got worse with recent bad weather.

Ssince the start of last week, flooding at the site alongside the M25 and A13 has affected more than 40 horses.

Animal groups and councillors have called on Thurrock Council to take decisive action.

Sue Allery, chairman of the Essex Horse and Pony Protection Society, said the charity had received more than 60 complaints over the Christmas period from people concerned for the welfare of the horses at the Mardyke.

“This is a flood plain and totally unsuitable for grazing animals in the winter months.

“The situation is dire and needs to be resolved before this suffering goes on any more. The horses on the land are in danger of drowning as the water levels rise.”

Sue Burton, manager at the Remus Horse Sanctuary, in Ingatestone, said: “Thurrock Council has responsibilities and they are choosing to turn a blind eye and drag their feet on this issue. It has to stop now and they have to accept responsibility or be held responsible for their lack of action for these horses.”

Lynn Carr, Ockendon ward councillor, said: “In the short-term it solves the problem but not in the long-term. It is a flood plain and, certainly in the winter, it is not suitable for horses.”

The council, RSPCA and police have not felt the need to remove the horses from the site, to “alleviate distress”, up to now.

A council spokesman said: “In the longer term the council acknowledges the land needs to be more intensively managed than its resources allow.

“An environmental organisation would be better placed to do this and the council is moving ahead with plans to change the arrangements in the New Year - although it is likely to take several months to complete.”

Thurrock Council is looking to appoint an environmental organisation to manage its land at the Mardyke Meadows after a deluge of rain over the Christmas period turned the land into a swamp.