PROTESTERS gathered at the weekend in an attempt to stop the culling of roe deer at Sellafield.

People from Seascale, Bowness and Milnthorpe united to fight against a proposed cull by operators of the nuclear plant.

Sunday's protest comes as a result of deer being trapped by a new secondary security fence erected at the west Cumbria plant.

Anti-nuclear campaigner Marianne Birkby, of Radiation Free Lakeland, said: “About 15 of us, including children, set up banners to coincide with shift workers coming on at 2pm and asked them to honk their horns if they agreed with us, and they did with thumbs up.”

“What was not part of the remit was the removal of part of the fence to let the deer escape,” she added.

Five to 12 wild roe deer are thought to be trapped between the two fences and the company says the action has only been taken as a ‘last resort’, and on ‘expert advice’.

Chair of Seascale Parish Council Helen Pateman said: “We regret it very much and we see the deer as part of our landscape which people enjoy.

“We don’t associate ourselves with Radiation Free Lakeland but we remain to be convinced this is the only solution to the problem that Sellafield have created themselves.”

Ms Birkby said there are three petitions calling for the cull to stop and they currently have about 3,700 signatures between them.

Respect for Wildlife Founder Katherine Green said: “We have a humane expert, Kevin Newell, who can help but this is just a quick fix, and we will be having more peaceful protests.”

Mr Newell, who runs Humane Wildlife Solutions in the Scottish Borders, says he has offered several times to meet with Sellafield bosses to discuss a non-lethal solution to the deer trapped in the compound.

Mr Newell claimed: “Unfortunately, the company has so far ignored my requests to meet with them but my offer remains - I would like to help resolve this problem.

“These are wild animals, adept at escaping dogs and other dangers and the idea that they might hurt themselves on vegetation is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard.”

A Sellafield spokesman said: “Not surprisingly, having exhausted all options before making our decision and proactively informing local stakeholders of our intention, the advice from our experts has not and will not change, despite the strong feelings which have been expressed.

“Finally we would like to thank all of those involved on Sunday for the respectful, considerate and, above all peaceful approach with which they carried out their protest.”

Kate Fowler, of Animal Aid, said: “This is a huge and controversial company that seeks complex solutions to difficult and dangerous problems as a matter of course, and it cannot be beyond their wit to release a handful of deer.

“There will, no doubt, be more demonstrations to come but most of all we want the company to consider the offers that have been made by wildlife deterrence experts to let the deer back out of the compound.

“After all, it is the company's fault that they are trapped there.”