A gas leak that has seen a major road shut all afternoon was caused by a contractor “trying to find the gas main”.

Swindon Borough Council said the Oxford Road leak had been caused accidentally by contractors working on the site – a road widening project and part of the New Eastern Villages scheme.

A spokesman said Osbourne, the contractors, had been provided with a plan of the site but the gas main was not in the right place.

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Firefighters at the scene on Oxford Road, Stratton Picture: DAVE COX

In a statement, the council said: “At lunchtime today we were alerted to a gas leak on Oxford Road, near the White Hart roundabout.

“The leak was caused accidentally by our contractors working in the area. A utilities plan was provided for the works but it was not in the correct location and Osborne, the contractor, has been trying to locate the gas main over the last few days.”

The council’s spokesman added: “Residents may smell the gas but it will not cause a health risk. We would like to thank drivers and local residents for their patience as the leak is fixed.”

The emergency services remain at the scene. It is anticipated the road will be shut for much of the night as engineers from Wales and West Utilities, which owns the pipe, work to fix the damaged main.