Concerns over foul smell at popular beauty spot

Whitley Reservoir
Whitley Reservoir

Political activists are calling for action after residents complained of a disgusting smell coming from the water at a little-known beauty spot.

Whitley Reservoir, which is something of a hidden gem in the borough known mainly by those who live nearby and local birdwatchers, has been giving off a powerful stench which has alarmed residents.

They have now informed the borough’s Green activists of the problem and the party is keen for the matter to be looked into, saying there is a possibility the reservoir is contaminated.

The opposition campaigners say the time of year the complaints have been raised has particularly prompted alarm bells as it throws into severe doubt natural explanations for the stench.

Wigan Council has now said it is the owner of the site, located between Whitley Crescent and Somerville Road, and the Green Party is calling on the town hall to act to remove the unpleasant odour.

Wigan and Leigh Green Party chairman Will Patterson said: “A couple of residents on Whitley Crescent complained to us about the smell. Trying to describe it or compare it to anything is quite difficult, but it’s quite a stale smell.

“You get natural events like algae blooms which give off a pretty strong smell but that shouldn’t really be happening in November. You would expect to see that in spring and summer.

“There is clearly something in there that shouldn’t be. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was waste and people throwing things into there.

“Even though it’s called a reservoir it doesn’t appear to be connected to the water supply but if there is a contaminant in there it’s a big risk because it is surrounded on all sides by homes.

“Now we know the council is in charge of it we will get in touch with them because it is clearly bothering and distressing local residents.

“We expect the council to be responsible landowners, get this investigated and get it sorted.”

The local authority said it knows there is a problem and is liaising with other public bodies with expertise on the great outdoors to find a solution.

Penny McGinty, assistant director for leisure, culture and property services at Wigan Council said: “We are aware of residents’ concerns and are liaising with the Envionment Agency regarding the reservoir.”

The body of water is visible from Somerville Road and forms something of a wildlife haven in the middle of the Whitley estate.

Mr Patterson says residents told him some people had tried to fish there but had been deterred from doing so.

He also said that so far the wildlife living at the reservoir appears to have been unaffected by the smell but warned this could not be taken for granted as both the possible extent and the cause of the pungent stench were still unknown.

Initially concerned environmental activists found themselves facing something of a mystery in trying to track down who the site belongs to but enquiries to the town hall revealed it is a local authority-owned area.