Shetland pony herd evacuated following diesel spill at RAF base

A herd of Shetland ponies has been evacuated from their field to escape a fuel spillage at an RAF base.

Rob Rhodes, who owns Time Out Animal Farm in Oxfordshire, said he had to move around 20 ponies from the land on Friday evening after the diesel was spilled – but the animals are now having a “whale of a time” in their new home.

Mr Rhodes said he was feeding other animals when he saw a man from RAF Brize Norton running towards him to warn him of the spillage.

He said: “I was feeding an alpaca and two donkeys on the farm and all of a sudden my two Alsatian guard dogs put their ears up and started running at somebody who was running towards me.

“It was a gent from the RAF Brize Norton – he told me they’d got an oil spillage and they showed me where it was. They were very good.”

He said men from the base put up barriers “like white sausages” to stop the spillage spreading “within half an hour”, as well as sheets to soak up the diesel.

Mr Rhodes, who keeps ducks, deer, donkeys and more at his farm, said the oil did not reach the ponies, and they were moved to a barn used to store their food.

“They’re having a whale of a time because they can get all the hay they want,” he said.

“It’ll be very difficult to get them back on the field, actually.”

He added he has been sent messages asking how the alpacas are doing following the spill, but reassured the PA news agency no animals were harmed in the incident.

However, Mr Rhodes urged dog walkers to stop ducking under the police tape currently surrounding the five-acre field where the spillage is contained, as the diesel could be dangerous for their pets.

RAF Brize Norton also warned walkers to avoid the area.

A spokesperson said: “Please be aware, there has been a diesel spillage from our station onto land occupied by the Time Out Animal Sanctuary.

“Our personnel are deployed and working with external agencies to deal with the spillage. Please do avoid the area.”