HUNDREDS of dead fish have been found in a polluted river in Horwich.

Local residents are horrified to have seen scores of fish of all varieties — including brown trout — lying dead in a section of the River Douglas in Horwich.

The Environment Agency is investigating the incident but believes it has now identified the source of the pollution and has now stopped it.

The agency said water users in the area have been informed about the issue and the situation is being monitored.

A spokesman said: “The Environment Agency received reports of dead fish, including brown trout, in the River Douglas at Squirrel Lane, Horwich.

“We believe we have found the source of the pollution and stopped it.

“Water users in the area have been informed. We will monitor the situation however the rainfall overnight will now have flushed and diluted the pollution through the river system and it shouldn’t pose any further risk to aquatic life.

“We ask members of the public to report environmental incidents to us on 0800 80 70 60.”

The fish were spotted yesterday and this morning in an area of the river near to Squirrel Lane.

This area lies a few hundred yards from the United Utilities Rivington Water Treatment Works and UU has said it is helping the Environment Agency with its investigation.

Heartbroken dog walkers have described seeing a ‘trail of destruction’ at the popular beauty spot.

Tracy Rotherham and friend Sandra Lucas spotted the dead fish yesterday.

The 46-year-old from Horwich said: “I usually go down there twice a day and it was my friend who pointed out that there were lots of dead fish.

“There were too many to count in total — in one small pool we spotted about fifty lying dead.

“It is a crying shame and its heartbreaking to think about how much damage may have been done because the river travels for miles.

“It is a beautiful spot and I have been going down there for 40 years — it is horrible to see such a trail of destruction and if someone has caused this they must be held accountable.”

Fellow Horwich dog walker Paul O’Rourke has been to the river this morning and reported seeing hundreds of dead fish.

Mr O’Rourke, 42, from the Crown Lane area, said: “I am absolutely devastated to see what has happened, there are hundreds of fish of all shapes and sized lying dead in the river.

“I am no expert and I don’t know what has happened but my fear is that this is just at the start of the river and this could have a lasting effect.”

Facebook users have also posted pictures and expressed their sadness at the incident on the Horwich First facebook page which is keeping local people updated on the situation.

The River Douglas is 56 kilometres in length and runs through Lancashire and Greater Manchester.
The source of the river is found at Winter Hill and the mouth is at the River Ribble, of which it is a tributary.