Published: 06:00, 01 October 2021
| Updated: 15:59, 01 October 2021
A "never ending cycle of bloodshed" has ended after power bosses agreed to stop trapping and killing foxes roaming onto their land.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that creatures entering Dungeness B nuclear power station on Romney Marsh were being culled in a bid to stop them potentially damaging the plant.
EDF, which runs the site, said it was following Natural England's guidance on trapping, which resulted in 'a few' foxes being killed.
But following concerns, the team from charity People for Nature & Peace (PNP), which is dedicated to preserving the Earth's biodiversity, got in touch with EDF about finding a "non-violent alternative".
PNP’s founder and chief executive, Dr Barbara Maas, an expert in fox behaviour, said she wanted to do anything in her power to save the foxes near the plant.
A spokesman for the charity said: "Initial phone calls were encouraging.
"Right from the start, the EDF team at Dungeness was willing to embrace non-lethal solutions to discourage several fox families from venturing onto their site.
"As a much-appreciated sign of their commitment, the plant’s management immediately halted all trapping.
"This was the best possible start towards finding an effective solution that kept both the foxes and the power station safe.
"Killing the 12 to15 foxes that visited the site would not have solved EDF's security concrens, because new foxes would begin to occupy the newly vacated territories.
"This is the same wherever this unfortunate and ineffective form of fox control is used.
"Fortunately, there are far better alternatives to this never ending cycle of bloodshed."
'Fortunately, there are far better alternatives to this never ending cycle of bloodshed...'
Dr Maas reached out to Kevin Newell from Humane Wildlife Solutions who provided his expertise in resolving fox-related issues non-violently.
Further dialogue with EDF followed and a non-lethal way forward was developed and agreed.
The new plan, which was adopted as policy for the EDF Dungeness site, involved working with, rather than against, the foxes’ natural behaviour.
In addition effective electronic deterrents were fitted to the site's gates.
A spokesman for EDF said: "EDF is delighted to have worked with the team at People for Nature & Peace and Humane Wildlife Solutions to resolve the issue at Dungeness.
"The expert assistance they provided was most helpful and gave us some clear guidance to humanely resolve the issue with our foxes.
"We agreed to keep in touch with them in the future to resolve any other similar issues and are extremely grateful for their understanding."
Dr Maas added: "The more time I spent with foxes, the more I respected and cared about these intelligent and beautiful wild animals that are so often vilified and persecuted.
"Getting to understand them as a species and as individuals, your heart can't help but go out to them and their kind.
"The situation at Dungeness was resolved quickly and easily, because the plant’s management was genuinely open and willing to embrace a kinder and better way forward.
"I am grateful to them for doing so and hope that other businesses too will adopt this positive and constructive approach, so that wild animals can be safe and protected."
EDF has now started 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.