Judges in Canary Islands rule against suspending oil exploration

Appeal had been filed by regional government in bid to stop Repsol prospecting in the area

Manuel Planelles
The deck of the ‘Rowan Renaissance,’ the ship carrying out the oil exploration work.
The deck of the ‘Rowan Renaissance,’ the ship carrying out the oil exploration work.alfredo cáliz

The Canary Islands regional High Court (TSJC) has ruled against a precautionary suspension of oil exploration work being carried out by Spanish firm Repsol off the coasts of the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. The regional government had requested a temporary stoppage of Repsol’s activities ahead of a ruling on an appeal it had filed against the go-ahead given to the energy company by the Industry Ministry.

Members of the TSJC met on Friday to debate the appeal filed by the Canary Islands’ government and the request for a precautionary suspension. The decision was relayed to the parties involved on Tuesday.

Seven appeals were filed against the royal decree permitting Repsol’s exploration work – all were rejected

In June, the Supreme Court in Madrid ruled in favor of a 2012 royal decree passed by the central government in Madrid giving legal backing to Repsol’s oil exploration off the coast of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 100 kilometers from Morocco. The magistrates rejected arguments against the activities presented by the Canary Islands government, local councils in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, and environmental groups Ecologists in Action and the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF), among others.

In total, seven appeals were filed against the royal decree permitting Repsol’s exploration, which began two months ago. All were rejected.

More information
Government gives definitive go-ahead to oil exploration off the Canary Islands
Repsol to start searching for oil off Canary Islands coast by end of year
Oil spill affects natural area in Canaries

Despite the rulings, the Canary Islands government decided to continue with legal action against the exploration work, and this time chose to bring its appeal to the TSJC. On October 30, it filed an appeal at the Canarian court warning of the environmental damage that could be caused by exploration activities. Before doing so, the government – along with Greenpeace and the WWF – also filed an appeal with Public Works Minister José Manuel Soria, which was also rejected.

Last month, two protestors were injured in a skirmish between Greenpeace activists and the Spanish navy at the site of the exploration work. The Spanish authorities rammed the boats of the environmental group after the latter refused to leave the area. A 23-year-old Italian woman working with Greenpeace was left with a broken leg after the incident. Another environmentalist suffered a blow to the ribs.

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