Protesters get 'global' support

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2012

Greenpeace activist taken into custody

Lucy Lawless interview

tdn greenpeace stand
Greenpeace protesters on top of the 53-metre-high drilling derrick have been flooded with support from around the globe.

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Greenpeace activists are claiming support from hundreds of thousands of people for their Port Taranaki protest aboard the Noble Discoverer.

Seven activists boarded the drillship after eluding security at the New Plymouth port about 7am on Friday to protest Shell's plan to drill exploratory oil wells in the Arctic.

One activist was arrested after climbing down on Saturday and a supporter was arrested on Friday.

Celebrity protester Lucy Lawless and five Greenpeace activists remained at the top of the 53-metre-high drilling derrick yesterday.

Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel said the group was in good spirits.

"They had a bit of a tough night but they are bolstered by the good weather today and they woke up to a magnificent view of the mountain," he said.

Greenpeace claim that since the protesters boarded the ship, more than 120,000 people worldwide had contacted Shell's CEO, Peter Voser, calling for the cancellation of its plans to open up the Arctic to oil exploration.

Mr Abel said the group continued to receive messages of support from around the world.

"They remain resolved to stay up there. They have sufficient supplies and sufficient water."

They also have solar panels for a computer and cell phones, and a tarpaulin.

Mr Abel said the conditions on top of the derrick were gruelling.

"It is noisy, it is blustery, you are on a boat and it moves. It is not the way you would like to spend your weekend, but they are determined to defend the Arctic from Shell's intention ..."

An oil spill in the Arctic region would be devastating to the environment and impossible to clean up, he said.

In a blog from the top of the derrick, Ms Lawless responded to Shell's statement saying that it was disappointed with Greenpeace for launching direct action.

"Well, we're disappointed that they are planning to drill in the pristine Arctic," she said.

"Shell use words like `safe' and `environmentally responsible' but this is laughable. The fact is that if drilling is allowed to go ahead it's not a question of if there will be an oil spill in the Arctic, it's a question of when."

Activist Viv Hadlow said it was great to receive all the messages of support.

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"It's been so inspiring to get all of these online messages and to know that standing alongside the six of us on this ship, there are hundreds of thousands of other people around the world who feel passionate about the Arctic and are prepared to take action to put a stop to Shell's crazy Arctic drilling plans," she said.

Aucklander Ilai Amir ended his involvement in the protest on Saturday and climbed down for "personal" reasons. He was arrested and charged with unlawfully boarding a ship. He has been bailed to appear at New Plymouth District Court on Thursday.

Greenpeace released a statement on his behalf. "I'm proud of what we've achieved here and I will still be with the team in spirit, as they continue to make sure that Shell hears the message loud and clear – the world does not want your reckless Arctic oil."

Port Taranaki is investigating how the group evaded security measures and boarded the vessel.

- Taranaki Daily News

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