Campaigners have called for Poole Harbour oil leak company Perenco to lose their operating permits and licence, to end fossil fuel extraction in the county.
A month ago, the news that 200 barrels of oily liquid had leaked into Poole Harbour, causing extensive pollution, endangering the health of wildlife, people and pets, was labelled an environmental disaster by conservation groups.
The spill was caused by a leaking pipe at Owers Bay, in Poole Harbour, a pipeline from the Wytch Farm Oil Production Site, which is owned and operated by Perenco.
Whilst a major incident was declared, Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC) and Perenco played down the impact describing it as “not so bad as first thought” whilst local conservation and environmental groups expressed concern about the possible impact on the local area.
This coming Monday, May Day Bank Holiday, Extinction Rebellion (XR) groups from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP), and across Dorset will stage a peaceful, family-friendly protest at Wytch Farm. The event will start at Norden Park & Ride / Swanage Railway (BH20 5DW) at 9.45am.
A procession along the lane towards Wytch Farm has been agreed with Dorset Police, and protestors will maintain a presence at the production site gate for two hours.
Event co-organiser Adam Osman from XR BCP says: “Join us to make a stand against site owners Perenco, and their risky oil business. Perenco is a dinosaur of the fossil fuel industry, with a poor track record on safety and a history of greenwashing. They polluted Poole Harbour, and we believe this production site is now past its expiry date. It’s time for oil production to end here, and for fossil fuel production to wind down everywhere.”
The event comes soon after XR’s The Big One in London, which saw 60,000+ people and over 200 organisations come together to demand the government take action on the climate and ecological crises, including no more new oil and gas projects. The event at Wytch Farm will be very much in that flavour, and the organisers encourage everyone to come.
Rebecca Saville from XR Purbeck says: “Bring your family and friends, bring your colourful banners and your instruments, bring a picnic and a blanket. Bring your voices and your love for Dorset’s beautiful environment and nature, and your rage at how it is being mistreated. Bring your call for the Environment Agency and authorities to end Wytch Farm’s license to drill and spill.”
Corfe Castle Parish Council calls on Perenco to take further measures to ensure no oil leak occurs again. The Wytch Farm oil field works are wholly situated in the Parish of Corfe Castle whose boundaries extend from Poole Harbour to the English Channel.
Their formal statement published on 26 April says, “The Parish Council expresses its deep concern about the significant oil spill in Ower Bay on 26 March which caused pollution in Poole Harbour and the coastline. The Parish Council (PC) believes that the terms of the operating licence require fail safe maintenance procedures in this world class and highly sensitive environment. The PC asked how did the maintenance failure occur? What system changes are being put in place to prevent any reoccurrence?”
Caz Dennett is an experienced safety consultant in the oil and gas industry, and publicly quit her contract with Shell last year over their environmental harms. She says the likelihood of further leaks, spills and other safety incidents increases as facilities age, and firmly believes the 44-year-old Wytch Farm site should now prepare to shutdown permanently. “I’ve witnessed many aging facilities become more risky, as the temptation for operators and owners to neglect maintenance, cut corners and cutback on resources increases as profits wane.”
Dorchester-based campaigner Julie-Ann Booker who is in regular contact with councils across Dorset said: “We spoke to Dorset Council about Perenco’s licence at Wytch Farm immediately after the spill and they were sympathetic to our call for it to be revoked. So, we need to push hard, we need more voices to make it clear we want ‘Perenco Out!’ and as quickly as possible to avoid further environmental disaster.”
Cllr Ray Bryan, lead councillor for the Environment at Dorset Council told the campaign group on Wednesday night that: “Dorset Council is managing the clean-up, and Perenco should foot the bill for it.”
The council is awaiting a report as to the root cause of the incident. It is expected to take approximately five to six weeks.
In the meantime, the campaigners urge people to get involved, join the protest, and sign the petition.
EVENT DETAILS: https://fb.me/e/QvJSHr5L
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