Poole Harbour is the world’s second largest natural harbour, and an area of both busy industry and sensitive habitats. But on Monday evening, the Quay was stormed by residents protesting against the Perenco pipeline oil spill which engulfed the harbour the day before. Nearly 200 barrels of reservoir fluid, a mixture of brine and oil, leaked into the water.
The harbour is an important environment of ecological space. Sea horses breed in the area, marine protected zones and an immense amount of sea life and other animals are at risk. They have been endangered by the growing effects of climate change as a result of human activities. The risks that this poses to our local ecosystems are enormous.
For the protest laison, Richard Ecclestone a member of Extinction Rebellion, Perenco have allowed this to take place. “They have been negligent and this should never happen. This is about the species that live here, they need this area to breed, and they are subject to what we do. The pollution that we humans are inflicting on them is unacceptable,” he said.
There are worrying concerns about the future of life and if the next generations will grow having a knowledge of these animal species and landmarks at all. There are other really crucial species that come out this particular time of the year. The Osprey, for example, returned here, to its nest, in 2022, after over 200 years to breed.
The protesters expressed their displeasure and outrage about the situation. Alasdair Keddie felt it was inevitable.
“I’m devastated that this has happened but sadly theres an inevitability about it, whilst there is oil extraction at Wytch Farm oil field by Perenco oil and gas company, there will be more spills,” Keddie stated. “It’s a crumbling crowded site, that has been in place for fifty years, if they keep trying to extract oil from that point, there will be more devastating leaks into Poole Bay.”
“This is an emergency, this is a climate emergency. Any fossil fuel needs to stay in the ground, if we want to have any chance of staying below 1.5 degrees of global warming.”
There are fears that this will cause damage to marine life, and lots of fragile ecosystems around the Poole Bay. These amongst others are the various climate implications of removing oil and processing it. This poses as a tremendous threat to our local ecosystem.
“We have seen what happens with extractions in sensitive areas like. Think of the Niger Delta in Nigeria and the horrific pollution,” Richard Ecclestone said. “This is nothing compared to what the oil and gas industry does in other parts of the world. Places like that can seem like out of sight, out mind but they are not. These companies have to be held accountable. If they must extract oil at all which they should not be doing, they have to act responsibly and they have got to do it without any environmental impacts and this just shows that they cannot be trusted to do that.”
Extracting oil in the area could lead to contamination of water, preventing people from going to The Harbour with oil on the surface of the water, which are the many side effects that come in the wake of the oil spill.
“I live here. I grew up swimming in these waters. We have now been told to keep out of the water as oil has long lasting impacts. I feel very anxious about the future, it just shows that we need to stop pumping oil out of the ground, we cannot reverse everything that we have done but we can stop making it worse. Human actions have caused this and it will be human actions that can reverse it that is what we need to focus on,” said Hannah Lindner, a member of the Extinction Rebellion in her contribution.
For Julie-Ann Booker, who lives in the area, “It is not only about the sea life, it is also about the life on the islands. The Brownsea Island is a massive tourist attraction for us, and this is quite devastating for all of us. I want to enjoy my environment, I do not want to be visiting the freshest places and looking at oil clumping on the water. Oil spills are happening all around the world and have devastated entire communities this should not really be happening,” she said.
Peter Aldous, a protestor at the site said, “I’m retired now and I have grand children and I’m concerned what’s going to happen. What’s the future for them? The more I learn, the more I worry about the future for my children and myself as well. Whether the earth is going to survive – not being dismal but we have got to save the planet and what is happening here.” Aldous, 75, who used to be a Poole harbour pilot, do not want to see the area ruined, and takes action to create public knowledge about how people can be more effective reserving the environment.
Despite the overwhelming effects of climate change, the protesters feel very optimistic about their efforts, Alasdair Keddie weighed on the situation to say, “We are running out of time, we need to act now and make use of every ounce of energy to fight for this and win.”
“There’s only so much that we can do as individuals, we could write to councils and campaign, we have this window of opportunity and we have got to use it,” said Julie-Ann Booker.
Alternatively, Richard Ecclestone said, “We need policy change, we need to put pressure on the politicians to effect the real change. It is necessary to invest in renewable technology rather than fossil fuels. We need to faze down the fossil fuel. We must do all we can to limit further damage on our climate.”