RESIDENTS were told to stay in and keep doors and windows shut after reports of a noxious odour in Seaford.

The emergency services issued the warning as residents complained of stinging eyes and feeling sick on Friday evening.

One of several people to contact Sussex Police described the smell as being "like burning plastic".

Jo, who did not want to give her surname, 42, of Barn Rise, told The Argus she had to stay upstairs in her house, as her living room stank of the odour. 

She said: "We just got on the drive at 6.45pm, and I thought what it is that smell. It hit us straight away as we got out the car and started making my eyes sting. It was really pungent. 

"Then we got in the house, and we could still smell it and we didn't even have any windows open. One of cats came in reeking of it, you could smell it in their fur.

"People were saying it smelt like burning plastic, but I thought the odour smelt of diesel or paraffin, as use to run a petrol station."

Sussex Police said the odour was first noticed in The Ridings area at around 6pm and lingered until about 23.00.  

Police are working with other agencies, including the coastguard, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and Lewes Council, to try to determine the cause of the smell.

So far they have been unable to determine the source of the smell. 
An East Sussex Fire and Rescue (ESFRS) spokeswoman said: "ESFRS has been unable to ascertain the source of the odour.

Members of the public are reminded that if they have any concerns today in relation to this odour they should keep doors and windows shut and report it to the Fire Service."

George O'Reilly, a hazardous materials officer investigating the smell for ESFR, said: "People will be waking up this morning without the smell and able to go out and open their windows.

"If the source of this smell was something sprayed on the ground for agricultural reasons, it could be as the weather warms up, people will get a whiff of it again.

"Anybody who smells it again or has any concerns should contact the fire service immediately."

He said emergency services, including a fire engine and technical rescue unit, quickly discovered there was no risk to public health but despite a thorough search of the area the source could not be found.

A spokesman for Lewes District Council said: "Air quality and pollution officers will be making further investigations in the coming days."

In August, a toxic "haze" caused discomfort to people in the Birling Gap area, but police said the Seaford incident was not currently being linked to it.

Visitors to Birling Gap and other beaches in Sussex suffered sore eyes and breathing problems after a mystery gas was blown ashore from the English Channel on August 27.

It is believed the most likely source of the fumes was a ship illegally flushing its tanks with chemicals.

Mr O'Reilly said the smell in Seaford was not linked to the August incident as it was not a "cloud" from the sea.