Stinking sewage has been filling a ditch near family homes for at least a month after a pipe was cracked by a digger, it has been claimed.

People living in flats in Oakfields, off Lower Alderton Hall Lane in Loughton, say they have had to put up with the raw waste since a utilities company dug up a pipe about five weeks ago.

Resident David Childs said: “Every time I flush my toilet or the neighbours above do, it just goes straight out into a trench.

“It smells and it’s almost right underneath my kitchen window, because it’s close to the building.

“They were sorting out a problem with the gas pressure and they had to move some of the pipes using a mini digger and went through a sewer pipe.

“It’s not as if they don’t know about it.”

He said he had contacted British Gas which he believes carried out the work, but has not seen any workers since the damage.

He has also told his landlords, Epping Forest District Council, who said they would send someone to investigate, but he has not seen any progress since.

The 66-year-old added: “There’s also the danger of the trench to young children who live in the area.

“It’s a communal garden and there’s no fencing, so anyone can walk into that grass area.”

People in the district faced sewage spills twice last year, in Epping and Buckhurst Hill, which were blamed on blockages.

A British Gas spokeswoman said the company could not be sure it had done the work and was trying to contact the district council to find out if it had hired a contractor.

She added: “I can't say for sure. We will look into it.”

A district council spokeswoman said: “At the moment, we can only say we're investigating it.”