Johannesburg – A South African court upheld on Thursday an earlier ban imposed on energy giant Shell from using seismic waves to explore for oil and gas off the Indian Ocean coast.
The judgement delivered in the southern town of Makhanda marked a monumental victory for environmentalists concerned about the impact the exploration would have on whales and other marine life.
The 2014 decision granting the right for the “exploration of oil and gas in the Transkei and Algoa exploration areas is reviewed and set aside,” the high court in the southern city of Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) ruled, according to judgement seen by AFP.
Civil rights organisations and civilians celebrated outside the courthouse following the verdict, according to local media.
A Shell spokesperson told AFP they “respect the court’s decision” and that they would review the judgment to “determine our next steps”.
Shell did not say if it will appeal the judgment or not.
“We remain committed to South Africa and our role in the just energy transition,” he said.
Last December the same court had issued an interim order prohibiting the company firm from forging ahead with its plans.
Green Connection, one of the environmental and human rights organisations who filed the case against Shell said in a statement “civil society, traditional communities and small-scale (fishermen) have once again been vindicated by the courts”.
The petroleum giant was set to collect 3D seismic data over more than 6,000 square kilometres (2,300 square miles) of ocean off South Africa’s wild coast — a 300km (185-mile) stretch of rich waters housing exquisite marine life and natural reserves.
Campaigners argued that the research would have sent an “extremely” loud shock waves every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day for five months, potentially harming marine species, disrupting their routines.
South Africa’s energy ministry had backed the scheme, and lashed those who opposed it as thwarting investment in the country’s development.
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