Published: 15:47, 15 July 2021
| Updated: 18:40, 15 July 2021
Bosses at a Kent power station have confirmed that foxes are being caught in traps and killed after concerns were raised on social media.
A post on The Real Marsh Watch Facebook page asked if rumours about traps being laid for the creatures at Dungeness B nuclear power station, on Romney Marsh, were true.
More than 50 people commented on the post, with some questioning whether the traps are humane, while others supported the foxes being culled.
One comment said: "I hope not. They have nowhere to go as it is with all the building everywhere. Poor things."
Another said: "They would be humane traps if it is true."
A third said: "They kill and maim birds. They are not pretty little creatures. They are vermin and should be humanely culled."
Now, a spokesman for EDF - which runs Dungeness B - has said that traps are laid for foxes, in line with advice from Natural England (NE), for safety measures.
The NE guidance, posted on the government's website, states "you shouldn’t relocate or release captured foxes" as it will "cause foxes stress by transporting and relocating them to an unfamiliar environment".
As such, cage traps are used to catch foxes which are immediately on and next to the power station and within its boundary.
The advice from Natural England also states: "You must only use free-running snares, which relax when the animal is captured.
"You must check snares at least once a day and humanely kill any fox you catch while it’s in the trap or snare."
The spokesman for EDF said it had been following NE's advice until late June, when contract companies working with the firm were asked to explore other options for dealing with the trapped animals.
After a pause the company chose to continue with following the NE guidance on trapping.
Since then, 'a few' foxes have been trapped and killed, the spokesman said.
The reason for laying the traps in the first place, EDF says, is because the animals can cause potential damage to the plant, such as to the electrics, or to themselves.
Measures are put in place however to try and prevent foxes from getting close to the station in the first place, such as fencing, waste control, regular site inspections and staff being banned from feeding the animals.
The EDF spokesman said: “We work hard to prevent wild animals from getting onto our sites because some of them can damage vital electrical systems, which could pose safety risks to the animals and to our plant.
"As a responsible company we have measures in place to control animals on our site which are in line with Natural England’s advice."
Last month, EDF revealed is will now start the defueling process at Dungeness B - seven years earlier than expected.
This is because "a range of unique, significant and ongoing technical challenges" mean it is not possible to restart the plant, which has been offline since 2018.
Hundreds of jobs are secure for now, with EDF saying the process will take years, if not decades, and specially trained staff will need to remain on site.
EDF adds that it currently spends tens of thousands of pounds managing and maintaining the Dungeness Estate, large parts of which have a variety of nationally important wildlife designations.