Following yesterday’s court ruling giving oil giant Shell the go ahead to continue with exploration in the Wild Coast, the applicants – environmental rights organisations: Greenpeace Africa, Natural Justice, Border Deep Sea Angling Association and the Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club – say their fight is “far from over”, according to Greenpeace Africa.

The applicants failed to convince the judge of “apprehension of irreparable damage” given the mitigations Shell would have in place in line with the EMP (environmental management programme).

DA Shadow Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Dave Bryant MP, said yesterday that “the DA has noted today’s judgement relating to the imminent seismic blasting surveys along the Wild Coast. Today’s judgement by the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court in Makhanda will allow the blasting to take place as originally planned from this month onwards and to continue for the next five months. Concerns remain regarding the potential impact on the Wild Coast marine environment and it is essential that the blasting project is now meticulously monitored to ensure that any changes or impacts on the coastal environment are immediately reported.”

He added that the DA remains of the view that a new extensive and independent environmental impact study should have been undertaken and that government should have re-opened the public participation process to allow for concerns to be addressed.

“The DA notes that protests against the blasting are planned across the country for the coming days. We urge all those participating in these protests to please do so peacefully and to take into consideration those working at petrol stations who could be negatively affected by direct action” said Bryant, “the protection of the Wild Coast’s fragile marine environment is crucial. There are four marine protected areas along the coast, and whales use this coast line to calf during the summer. It remains to be seen how the blasting will impact both the marine life and the many people dependent on the sensitive environment for their livelihoods.

“The DA remains very concerned regarding the potential environmental impact and will monitor the progress of the blasting going forward” added Bryant.

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