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Shell drilling stopped for 5 hours to protect Conservation Area

Press release:  Issued by Rossport Solidarity Camp
Wednesday, 4th August 2010

This morning 11 people from Rossport Solidarity Camp waded and kayaked out from the camp to again delay Shell’s survey work in Sruwaddacon Estuary. Overall drilling work was stopped for over 5 hours, with one person climbing up one of the legs of the drilling platforms. Several people also attached themselves to the 2 outer drilling poles which are under the platforms. They were eventually removed by IRMS security, including one who used a knife.

After about 5 hours the drilling workers got on board and started preparing the drilling operation. Eventually they started drilling at around 1pm, despite the climber still being perched at the side of the platform. They drilled for approximately an hour before the climber came down and swam back to shore.

The drilling platforms are currently in a vital part of the Special Area of Conservation (SAC); close to bird feeding and nesting sites. At this time the estuary is also used as a migration route for Atlantic Salmon which are an Annex 1 species (the most protected EU category). They are very vulnerable to suffocation by suspended solids in the water clogging their gills and today we saw evidence of sediment spewing into the estuary from the boreholes. Movement of the platforms will also release suspended solids; endangering the supposedly protected salmon.

Recently, on the 2nd of August Minister Gormley made directions restricting leisure activities to protect Special Areas of Conservation[1]. Minister Gormley stated: “Along with other EU States, Ireland has designated certain areas for nature protection and, in those areas, that must be our priority. Many people, indeed, find recreation in the enjoyment of undisturbed nature”

One of the camper's at the scene, Sinead Leary stated “The damage by the borehole work directly contravenes the purpose of the SAC which Minister Gormley seems to conveniently forget when it comes to facilitating big business here in Mayo”

Ms Leary continued “The people of Erris have been saying for 10 years that these special areas need to be protected, so why is Minister Gormley giving a license to Shell to destroy the area.”

For further information or verification please contact:

Sinead Leary - 085 114170

Notes for editors:

[1] Minister Gormley's recent directions regarding Special Areas of Conservation