ANGRY residents have called for action from Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Council after a swan was covered in a black substance which had contaminated a local pond.

They say the pond off Mane Way has been turned from a mini-nature reserve into a local drugs den and is littered with rubbish left behind by youths and adults who frequent the area.

Owen Singer, from nearby Penleigh Farm at Dilton Marsh, said: “I am horrified that oil has contaminated the balancing pond and wild life at the end of our track.

“Sadly I am not surprised, we suffer from an incredible amount of fly tipping and littering from I hope a minority of despicable ignorant people.

“I basically am disgusted by the amount of broken glass, plastic bottles and litter that is blowing around the farm.”

Mr Singer, 44, said: “I don’t bother any more, it is so sad that the farm is a dumping ground. We don’t keep sheep anymore as we were fed up of the dog attacks and the fences being cut.

“If you farm on the outskirts of a town you have to put up with so much hassle, rubbish and abuse. I know it’s the few but it reflects poorly on the town, which is filthy.”

Paul Bendell, whose family spotted the swan in trouble last Friday, said: “At one time, the pond was a local nature reserve with two swans, geese, herons and fish.

“But over the past year, it has deteriorated. There are a number of youths who go down there to have parties and they have cut down trees to make little dens.

“It is just mindless behaviour from a small number of people and it makes me angry.”

Richard Covington, chairman of West Ashton Parish Council, said: “Vandals have thrown cans and bottles into the water and have cut down trees to make their dens.

“Usually there are two swans there but we found them covered in oil and in a terrible state. We called the RSPCA and the fire service to see if they could help to rescue them.”

After a valiant attempt to rescue the swan on Friday, it was eventually rescued on Saturday by Swan Support and taken to the West Hatch Animal Centre in Somerset to recover.

Other residents took to local social media to call for action after the incident, saying the youths have no respect for property and wildlife.

Linda Swain said: “This is so sad. I despair at the rubbish some vile creatures casually dump. They certainly haven’t been brought up to respect nature and property.”

Bex Shore added: “ I often run/ bike around there and the fly tipping is just horrendous. I really feel for you all.

“I’m absolutely appalled at the images of the poor swan covered in oil - how can people do these things?”

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “The local community policing team are aware of the reports of anti-social behaviour at the site and are working closely with various partners, including the local authority and the Environment Agency, to provide assistance.

“We will be carrying out additional patrols of the area to monitor the situation and hopefully help prevent future problems.”

Deborah Urch, the Westbury Town Council clerk, said: "On Friday Westbury Town Council received a call from one of our councillors raising concerns about general waste and oil contamination in a pond off Mane Way. There was a swan on the lake that was covered in the oil."

"At this stage we were aware that the RSPCA had been contacted but the local residents were unsure who to call about the fly tipping, rubbish and oil contamination.

"Westbury Town Council contacted Wiltshire Council’s Environmental Services who confirmed the would send their public protection team.

"We have since learned from the police that the fire service also attended the scene. The councillors with responsibility for the ward were notified."

Cllr Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council Cabinet member for highways and waste said: “It is very sad to hear of the damage that has occurred in and around this pond, especially at a time when people are wanting to using areas like this for their daily exercise.

“This area is owned by Persimmon Homes (Wessex) who are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance, but if there is illegal activity taking place such as drug taking people should report it to the Community Policing Team.”

A spokesman from Persimmon Homes Wessex, said: “The situation with the area of land at Leigh Park has been brought to our attention yesterday and we will work closely with the local council to help find a resolution.”

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said: “We received reports of oil in a small, privately owned pond in Westbury on Friday.

“The report mentioned that swans were apparently contaminated with oil and we established that the local Wildlife Trust and the RSPCA were aware of this.

“Our officers also established that the pond was off-line, in other words that there was no outflow of water which could potentially convey the pollution downstream to other habitats.

“We were therefore satisfied that the pollution was contained and not likely to worsen. We were also satisfied that the wildfowl affected were being dealt with by professional partners, so we did not attend.

“We welcome reports of pollution on any scale from members of the public, and encourage people to tell us using the 24-hour hotline number 0800 80 70 60.

“We don’t always attend the site of reported pollution, for example if it is a small-scale, minor incident, but we may respond in other ways to support partners or provide information to the public.

“As part of our follow-up activity in response to this incident, we have made contact with Wiltshire Council to discuss the reporter’s concerns about fly-tipping and vandalism at this site.

“At present, we are operating an incident response service that follows the government guidelines about operating safely during Covid-19 lockdown arrangements. We attend incidents that are serious enough to warrant us doing so.”