A GOVERNMENT report has failed to reveal the cause of the mysterious gas haze over Birling Gap last summer.

The haze, which drifted from the sea onto the coast at Birling Gap, near Eastbourne, left residents with burning eyes, sore throats and skin irritation, and forced over 150 to hospital.

Government scientists said the nature of the haze, which reportedly smelled of burning plastic, remains unclear, as a sample of the cloud was never taken at the time.

But scientists said ozone reacting with another gas was most likely behind the ozone gas spike, and said it was generated over the English Channel.

The report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) suggested passing ships releasing gas during cleaning or an accidental release could have caused this reaction, despite there being no reports of this, and there were 180 ships in that part of the English Channel on that day.

They also suggested wrecks or containers lost overboard could be to blame.

The report convened by professor Ian Boyd, chief scientific advisor, added: “Unless further information is obtained, it may never be possible to identify the precise source of the release.”

The report was released by Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd yesterday, after it was found in the House of Commons Library.

He said: “Suffice to say, there’s more to do.

“Whilst the report suggests probable cause and likely haze contents, it raises other issues. A repeat cannot be ruled out.

“I am now going to pursue the following, funding for sampling equipment, investigation of early warning systems, a cross party group of south coast MPs to back these calls and better understanding of shipping traffic trends.”