Sidmouth Rugby club has temporarily closed its two pitches in Sidford because of suspected sewage pollution.

On Saturday (February 3) the club announced that it was halting the use of both pitches for safety reasons.

The club’s board said there had been ‘a significant increase in wetness and a noticeable odour emanating from the pitches, particularly during the winter months’.  They reported this to the Environment Agency (EA), and asked South West Water (SWW) to investigate.

On Saturday the water company’s response team confirmed that there were high levels of ammonia on the pitches, indicating possible contamination with sewage.

The club said: “While the exact cause and extent of the contamination are still under investigation, SRFC is taking proactive measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its players, staff and the wider community.

“As a result, the board has made the difficult decision to halt any further use of the pitches until comprehensive assessment and remedial action, in coordination with  SWW and the EA, are completed. This decision aligns with SRFC’s commitment to prioritising the health and safety of all individuals associated with the club and its activities.”

The club said it acknowledged the ‘inconvenience and disappointment’ the closure will cause to members, supporters and the wider community, but ‘believes that taking immediate action to address potential health risks is paramount’.

The board has thanked the Environment Agency and South West Water for their ‘prompt response and ongoing support in addressing this issue’, and said the club will provide further updates on the situation as more information becomes available.

The MP for East Devon, Simon Jupp, visited the rugby club on Sunday (February 4) and met chairman Matthew Barrett and member John Dunn. He said: “I am in contact with South West Water and the Environment Agency as investigations continue.”