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Shell protests continue across South Africa

A giant Snoek marionette operated by puppeteers flouted through hundreds of protesters who gathered at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg to protest against seismic exploration by Shell. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency

A giant Snoek marionette operated by puppeteers flouted through hundreds of protesters who gathered at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg to protest against seismic exploration by Shell. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency

Published Dec 6, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - While environmentalists lost their urgent application in the Makhanda High Court to stop Shell from starting its seismic survey on Friday, activists are still expressing their opposition to the operation, with protests held in various coastal areas.

Protesters gathered at Central Beach in Plettenberg Bay and at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg on Sunday.

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The seismic survey is scheduled to last for about four months, targeting a specific area within the Exploration License Area on the Wild Coast where it is believed there may be potential oil or gas deposits beneath the ground surface.

Protester Julie Anderson said: “We have to show support for those fighting the good fight on behalf of the oceans, to put a stop to seismic surveys and all future fossil fuel extensions from the ocean and desert.

“We call on all big oil companies to create a sustainable solution that won’t harm our environment. Clean up the plastics in our oceans and find a way to turn that into energy, we cannot afford another oil rig to be extracting oil and gas. Find another way to create energy.”

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Four environmental and human rights organisations had filed an urgent interim interdict against Shell to prevent the petroleum giant from commencing, citing harmful impact on marine life and in turn local communities.

However Acting Judge Justice Govindjee concluded on Friday that the applicants had failed to convince him that there was a reasonable apprehension of “irreparable harm” if the interdict was not granted and that given financial and other prejudice to Shell if the seismic surveys were delayed, the “balance of convenience” was in Shell’s favour.

He dismissed the application with costs, including the costs of two counsel.

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Reacting to the decision, Greenpeace Africa said it was dismayed that the court dismissed the application without granting the request to be allowed to return to court to make further representations and present expert evidence.

“The application was made in the public interest to protect the ocean and coastal environment. The applicants had anticipated being able to present further expert evidence of irreparable harm on the return date.

The application had to be made on a hyper-urgent basis (as a consequence of Shell’s actions and the inactions of the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy) which meant that it had not been possible for experts to finalise detailed reports and affidavits by the time the application was launched,” Greenpeace Africa said.

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Meanwhile, Shell welcomed the court’s decision, saying it will help move this seismic survey forward in accordance with its regulatory approval and permitting.

“Shell has long experience in collecting offshore seismic data and has taken great care to prevent or minimize potential impacts on fish, marine mammals and other wildlife.

“We have conducted an environmental study in line with regulatory requirements and obtained legal permits to carry out the activity,” Shell South Africa said.

“Shell is aware of the protests currently taking place and we acknowledge all the different views.

“At Shell we respect the right of everyone to express their point of view.

We only ask that they do so with their safety and the safety of others in mind.”

Cape Times

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