VILLAGERS near Devizes are worried that a stream has become polluted with diesel oil and the problem is spreading.

The Environment Agency was called in to investigate after people in Potterne noticed a strong smell of oil coming from the watercourse known locally as Whistley stream.

The smell was so bad on Friday evening that a passing police patrol stopped to investigate but after officers were told the Environment Agency was aware they left.

Home owner Bob Berry was one of the first to notice the problem and alerted the authorities.

He said: “It was noted by a resident on March 30 and I woke up to a strong smell of what seemed to be heating oil the day after.

“I immediately contacted the Environment Agency hotline to report it after failing to pinpoint it myself.

“An officer came out the next day and did some door-knocking and looked around to see if he could help.

“I did some of my own research and after lifting some inspection covers ascertained a strong smell in the groundwater culvert that traverses from Ryleaze round to Coxhill Lane to the high street, Duck street and then on to the Whistley stream.”

Mr Berry then continued investigations and found that while Duck Street had oil in it the water in Coxhill Lane was clear so he believes the leak is around High Street.

He said: “It is very worrying. The stream leads to the River Avon near Melksham and so it is possible that could become polluted. Fuel sheen has been seen on the water as far as a mile away from the village.

He called on villagers living in the High Street area to check their own tanks and make sure their neighbours are aware of the problem.

The Environment Agency has put three large booms on the stream to catch pollutants but Mr Berry is worried pollution is continuing.” A spokesman said: “We are investigating.”