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Urgent interdict to stop Shell’s seismic survey dismissed

Acting Judge Govindjee said the applicants failed to convince him that there was a reasonable apprehension of 'irreparable harm'.

EFFORTS by four environmental organisations to stop Shell from proceeding with its planned seismic survey were rejected by Makhanda High Court this morning, December 3. 

The petroleum giant had planned to start the seismic survey on Wednesday, December 1. Shell was forced to stop all operations after four organisations, including Greenpeace Africa and Natural Justice, had a certificate of urgency delivered to the Registrar’s Office on Monday, November 29 for an urgent interdict. 

Cullinan and Associates, the environmental attorney’s representing the applicants, said Acting Judge Govindjee dismissed the application with costs, including the cost of two counsel.

MORE ON THE SEISMIC SURVEY: Urgent interdict filed to stop Shell’s seismic survey

“The court concluded that the applicants had failed to convince him that there was a reasonable apprehension of ‘irreparable harm’ if the interdict were 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,” said Cullinan and Associates’ Annette Gibbs.

MORE ON THE SEISMIC SURVEY: Eco protest against Shell hits home

The survey will cover about 6 011km2, between Port St Johns and Morgans Bay for a period of four to five months.

The environmental organisations and anti-seismic survey protesters claim that this severe disruption of the marine ecosystem could have massive impacts on all life within the area, including the local fishing and ecotourism industries.

“The decision to allow Shell to continue with its plans to destroy the Wild Coast is very disappointing. Not only will the blasting destroy precious biodiverse ecosystems, but it will also destroy the livelihoods of local communities, all in the name of profit,” said the senior climate and energy campaign manager for Greenpeace Africa, Happy Khambule.

Khambule said they will continue to support the nationwide resistance against Shell and pursue a legal avenue to stop Shell.

“The outcome is very unfortunate, especially since the judge did not recognise the urgency of the interdict and the immediate threat the seismic surveys pose to the environment, marine life and local communities,” said the executive director of Natural Justice, Pooven Moodley.

Kei Mouth Skiboat Club, one of the four organisations against the seismic survey, said it was saddened by the result, but was happy that it did all it could, under the circumstances.

“Shell and its shareholders should be ashamed of themselves. We should all be telling our investment advisors and pension funds to disinvest from Shell. It’s the only language they understand,” said the chairperson of Kei Mouth Skiboat Club (KMSBC), John Rance.

“We are extremely disappointed with the outcome of this hearing. This is not the end, we will continue to fight for our local people, their heritage and the environment. We call on South Africans to stand together and protest this invasive and environmentally harmful seismic survey, as well as any future mining plans,” said the Border Deep Sea Angling Association’s John Luef.


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