A DOG quarantine centre is to be built in Wickford after fears a new superport will bring an increase in diseased dogs from abroad.

Planning officers at Basildon Council have given the go-ahead for the facility at Gemini Kennels, in Hovefields Avenue.

It comes after Thurrock, Basildon and Havering councils raised concerns about a rise in imported dogs after the opening of the London Gateway superport, in Corringham.

The quarantine facility will be one of just ten across the country.

Dogs identified as being an infection risk will be transported to Gemini Kennels, where they will remain in quarantine for three months.

During that time they will be assessed by experts and be vaccinated against dangerous diseases, such as rabies.

Michael Knight, who owns Gemini, said: “We have had dogs come out of foreign vehicles or even ships at Tilbury docks and as a precaution they need to be taken into quarantine straight away.

“It is definitely going to happen even more now the superport at Corringham has opened. I’m sure we are going to be very busy.

“The quarantine kennels will be a self-contained facility, which is totally and utterly separate from the other kennels.

“I am absolutely delighted the scheme has been given the go-ahead.

“I wasn't going do it because we have already got a lot on our plates, but it is such a big help for the local authorities, and at the end of the day this is for the dogs.”

The quarantine facility, which will house six dogs, could be up and running by April. The new block will be built on greenbelt land within the Gemini site.

Planning officers gave the development the go-ahead as the facility is desperately needed and was requested by a number of local authorities.

There only other Essex quarantine centre is in Colchester.

Gordon Humphries, planning officer at Basildon Council, said “very special circumstances can be made to justify the development as an exception to normal greenbelt policies in this instance”.