The control room of Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service has reported receiving more than twenty calls today about a strong smell of gas in the air.
In a statement they said: 'The unpleasant odour is understood to emanate from a leak in a factory in Rouen in northern France.
'The Health Protection Agency has stressed the gas is non-toxic and presents no threat to the public. The chemical released - mercaptan - is an organic compound added to natural gas, lubricants and paints. The smell is caused by the sulphur in the gas but it is completely harmless.'
The initial alert to the Hampshire control room came from their counterparts in West Sussex. The calls from the public came from as far apart as far north in Hampshire as Basingstoke and Andover, and as far west as Ringwood.
"Our control room has dealt with a number of calls reporting the unpleasant gas smell.
"We want to reassure the public that the gas presents no threat to health and is completely harmless.
"We would also like to remind the public that if they suspect they are dealing with a genuine gas emergency in their home or building, they should call the National Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111999."
– Group Manager Tony Deacon, Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service
Surrey Police say they received 15 calls about a smell of gas in the air this morning. Kent Police and Sussex Police also received calls about the problem. The source of the smell was later attributed to an accidental discharge from a factory in Rouen, more than 60 miles west of Paris.
Surrey Police said the smell is from an additive to the gas which has an unpleasant aroma, but is not toxic, and does not present any danger to the public.
The Health Protection Agency has released a statement about a gas cloud that has travelled across the channel from France. The gas and the resulting smell has been detected in areas across the South coast prompting calls to the emergency services.
"The smell drifting over Southern England today poses no risk to public health. The odour, which is similar to rotten eggs, has been noticed by people mainly in Kent, East and West Sussex and some parts of Surrey.
"It is caused by a particularly smelly chemical that is added to odourless natural gas to give that its characteristic smell.
" The chemical leaked from a factory in Rouen, France yesterday and has blown across the Channel overnight. It is not toxic and has also been diluted before entering the air over England, so people should be reassured it will cause no harm. It is an unpleasant odour which may cause some people to feel slightly nauseous but it will dispel naturally.
All Eurotunnel and Eurostar services have been suspended this afternoon after a fire on a Shuttle train just outside the Channel Tunnel. Kent Fire and Rescue service says it happened on the French side and no damage or injuries were reported. It happened at around two o'clock.
Love them or loathe them, oysters have been farmed in Kent since Roman times. And now it seems their popularity is reaching new heights. Stocks in France have been badly hit by disease. Now our continental cousins are turning to us for supplies. David Johns reports.
Brittany Ferries has been forced to cancel sailings until at least Tuesday after talks with unions broke down.
A series of strikes have been held for a week now in protest at the ferry companies planned money saving measures.
The firm, which has its UK headquarters in Portsmouth, says the crew unions’ members would not agree to sign a draft agreement document
Brittany Ferries is sending its customers to Dover where P&O Ferries and MyFerryLink will accept its tickets.
A spokesman said:
‘Brittany Ferries very much regrets the effect that the disruption is having on its customers and would like to reassure everyone that the management is working hard to reach a swift end to the dispute as well as doing everything possible to help its customers rearrange their travel plans.’