Swans and other wildlife have reportedly gone missing after cooking oil spilled into a canal.

A large oil spill from a facility in Alperton in Brent was first reported at the Regents Canal on February 9. It is understood that it has spread nearly six miles to Little Venice near Paddington.

Locals in the area said that days after the initial leak, oil could be seen in Willesden Junction as it continued to make its way along the waterway.

Weeks later, birds that would normally be seen everyday at the canal have gone missing, a man claims.

John Fogarty, who lies on a boat on the canal, said it was “very distressing”.

Usually, there would be “daily” noise from swans, coots and ducks on the canal. Now he fears that the wildlife has been “wiped out”.

He said: “Normally I wake up to the sounds of the various creatures arguing among themselves and so on and now the silence is deafening.”

The man added: “These creatures are helpless and should be protected.”

The Canal & River Trust said that it took the Environment Agency two weeks to investigate the matter.

According to the trust, it was only on last Thursday (February 22) that the agency began to grade suspected oil pollution on the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal as a ‘Category 3’ incident - meaning there is minor or minimal impact on the environment.

The trust said: “This means two weeks after we asked them to investigate, that it is now down to our charity to pick up the cost of clearing the pollution – a bill that is likely to run into tens of thousands of pounds.

“This afternoon [February 22], we’ve engaged specialist contractors to contain and remove oil from the worst affected areas and are now reliant on the Environment Agency, as regulator, to investigate the source of the pollution, without which there’s very little prospect of being able to recover any money from whoever caused the pollution in the first place.”

In a statement to The Times, the Environment Agency said: “We have been taking action to contain the oil, which will degrade naturally over the coming days.

“We will be investigating the source … and of course will take the appropriate action.”