Shell wants Greenpeace protest ban
Greenpeace told an Amsterdam court it is targeting its campaign 'to stop risky oil drilling in the fragile Arctic environment.'
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 07:06 AM
Greenpeace activists standing near a stuffed polar bear at a Shell gasoline station in the central Dutch town of Breukelen. (Photo: AFP)
Royal Dutch Shell is suing Greenpeace to ban protests near its property in the Netherlands or face a million-euro fine, the environmental group and Shell said Friday.
"Shell is seeking to prevent Greenpeace from staging any protests in the Netherlands within 500 meters of its operations, including petrol stations or offices, or face a one million euro fine," a Greenpeace statement said.
Court documents cited by Greenpeace said that Shell wanted the environmental group to be fined an additional "100,000 euros for every day or part of a day that a violation of such order lasts."
A court in Amsterdam was on Friday hearing the case, which Greenpeace said was targeting its campaign "to stop risky oil drilling in the fragile Arctic environment."
Greenpeace has organised several protests against Shell's exploratory drilling in the Arctic, including last week using bicycle locks to shut down pumps at dozens of petrol stations in the Netherlands.
Shell said on Monday that it was delaying until next year exploratory drilling for oil in offshore Alaska after suffering damage to a dome used to contain any potential spills.
Shell's search for oil in the region is facing deep opposition from environmentalists, who worry that an oil spill could have devastating effects on the pristine Arctic environment.
"We have launched an urgent application in the Amsterdam District Court against Greenpeace to stop them from holding any protest actions at Shell's assets including filling stations, refineries and our head office in The Hague," Shell spokesman Wim van de Wiel told AFP.
"We believe the protest action damaged small business owners and people who have really nothing to do with Shell's drilling operations in the Arctic."
Last week's protest shut down Shell pumps but not service station shops, according to Greenpeace. The protests led to 18 arrests and ended after firefighters cut through the bicycle locks.
The environmental group said that other companies' petrol stations were available near all the Shell stations affected by the protests.
"Greenpeace's freedom of expression is important, but we believe their actions are damaging people who have nothing to do with our operations," Van de Wiel said, adding that he hoped judges would give their ruling later on Friday.
An Amsterdam court official who asked not to be named told AFP that a judge had begun hearing an "urgent application" in the morning,
Greenpeace said that Shell was pursuing three suits against Greenpeace USA and 13 other environmental and Indigenous organisations in Alaska to try to stop future legal challenges against Shell's Arctic operating licences.
"All this is a thinly-veiled attempt to prevent public scrutiny of the true cost of its drilling campaign and its ability to deal with a disastrous oil spill," said Greenpeace lawyer Jasper Teulings.
Copyright 2012 AFP Global Edition