“ Devastated! "
This is the word the plaintiffs used to describe how they felt after the high court rejected their urgent ban on preventing Shell from carrying out a seismic survey off the Eastern Cape coast.
This means that, despite a wave of protests, Shell can go ahead and inspect the area for gas.
The decision was rendered by Judge Avinash Govindjee of the Eastern Cape Division of the Makhanda High Court.
The tribunal concluded that the applicants had failed to convince it that there was a reasonable fear of "irreparable harm" if the ban was not granted and that, in view of the financial and other harm caused to Shell if seismic surveys were delayed, the "balance of convenience" was in favor of Shell.
Therefore, the judge dismissed the claim with costs, including costs for two lawyers.
Earlier this week , four of environmental organizations and human rights - Greenpeace Africa, Natural Justice, the Border Deep Sea Angling Association and Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club - filed an urgent request to block seismic study , taking into account the damage it would cause to the environment and marine life.
“Unthinkable. We are saddened by the result, but happy to have done all we could under the circumstances. The seismic study can go ahead, but there will be quite a fuss before mining begins , ”said John Rance, chairman of the Kei Mouth Skiboat Club (KMSBC), adding: “ Shell and its shareholders should be ashamed of themselves. We should all tell our investment advisers and our pension funds to get out of Shell. It is the only language they understand. "
Meanwhile, Pooven Moodley, Executive Director of Natural Justice, said: “Our fight to save the rugged coast is not over, and our greatest fight for climate justice and to resist drilling for oil and gas in Africa is not over. South and across the continent is far from over.
"As activists, civil society and lawyers, we cannot relax - the climate crisis is upon us, and the fossil fuel companies that are accelerating the crisis pose a serious threat to the planet, our livelihoods. , human rights and existence itself. We will fight them on the beaches and in court, ” he said.
He added: “ The result is very regrettable, especially since the judge did not recognize the urgency of the ban and the immediate threat that seismic surveys pose to the environment, marine life and land. local communities. "
Reacting to the result, Happy Khambule, senior climate and energy campaign manager for Greenpeace Africa, said the decision to allow Shell to continue with its plans "to destroy the rugged coastline is very disappointing." Not only will blasting destroy valuable ecosystems rich in biodiversity, it will also destroy the livelihoods of local communities, all in the name of profit ”.
“We will continue to support the national resistance against Shell and pursue the legal path to stop Shell. We must do all we can to undo the destructive colonial legacy of extractivism, until we live in a world where people and the planet come before the profits of toxic fossil fuel companies, ” continues Khambule. .
John Luef of the Border Deep Sea Angling Association said: “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 damaging seismic survey, as well as any future mining projects. "
Late yesterday, another group of plaintiffs filed a second urgent interim ban against Shell.
Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) and several communities on the Wild Coast, including fishermen, traditional leaders and healers, have filed documents to ban Shell's seismic survey.
Sinegugu Zukulu, speaking on behalf of SWC, said yesterday:
“We did not lose the war !! This is only a battle - we will continue. "
SWC, in collaboration with the Dwesa-Cwebe Communal Property Association, fishermen - Ntsindiso Nongcavu (Port St Johns), Sazise Maxwell Pekayo and Cameron Thorpe (Kei Mouth) - mashona Wetu Dlamini, traditional leader and healer of Amadiba, and All Rise Attorneys for Climate and Environmental Justice have called for an urgent ban on Shell's seismic survey off the wild coast.
This motion - separate from the urgent motion presented by Cullinan and Associates which was denied - will be heard on December 14.
“Our urgent ban request is based on the simple fact that Shell does not have an environmental clearance under national environmental management law for this investigation.
“We know this survey was approved in 2014, but it is now 2021 and we need to ensure that any illegal offshore exploration is not authorized by our government through negligence or misinterpretation of changes in the law since 2014. We request the immediate cessation of the study and that no seismic study be authorized without an appropriate environmental authorization (EE). "
No one could confirm whether Shell had already started probing.