The cause of an unpleasant smell in the Cirencester area has been revealed.

Hundreds took to social media yesterday to complain about the 'disgusting' odour.

And while some argued it was to be expected in the countryside at this time of year, others said the stink was worse than anything they had previously experienced.

The cause of the smell has now been revealed as treated sewage being spread on fields.

A statement posted on Facebook by the Bathurst Estate said: "We would like to inform you that Cirencester Park Farms Ltd has a contractor spreading Biosolids (treated waterworks waste) on behalf of Wessex Water on the surrounding fields near Stratton.

"Regrettably there will be an odour when the spreading takes place and we hope that it does not cause you any inconvenience.

"The spreading was organised for when there was an easterly wind which would take the odour away from the town, frustratingly the wind dropped in the night and as such the odour hung in the valleys.

"We have a tractor and cultivator working to incorporate the Biosolids as quickly as possible, this will also reduce the odour. The wind looks like it should pick up later today to disperse the smell away from town.

"The recycling of Biosolids has come about due to changes in the Water Framework Directive. In the past it was acceptable for Biosolids to be taken out into the River Seven estuary and ‘let go’, this practice was rightly banned in 1998.

"Biosolids can, in some instances, be disposed of to landfill sites; however, the government has introduced measures to limit and reduce levels of organic matter that are disposed of in this way. So landfill is not a sustainable option, the water companies therefore require land on which to spread the Biosolids.

"The landowners/farmers purchase the Biosolids from the water companies thereby providing a service to them and a benefit for the environment.

"At the same time the Biosolids will provide nutrients and organic matter for the following crop, which in this case is winter barley grown primarily as a livestock feed. The use of Biosolids enables less artificial fertiliser to be used which offsets the use of fossil fuels used in the manufacture of artificial fertilisers. This greatly reduces the farms carbon footprint, which is becoming more closely monitored.

"The Biosolids have been treated and are of no potential harm to humans or animals. The strict regulations and controls also ensure that no potential harm can occur to the environment. All the fields planned for the application have been soil tested and their suitability has been checked with the Environment Agency."