The Ecologist June 1971: No oil at Amlwch

Ecologist Magazine June 1971
Forty years ago this month, Richard Thompson Coon reported on a proposed oil pipeline that would run through a picturesque Welsh island. But have we learned our lesson and stopped destroying natural habitat for the sake of oil?

The pipeline was built through Amlwch on Anglesey, an island with 70 per cent of its coastline undeveloped at the time. Opposition to the project, which pumped oil from an offshore receiving station to an oil refinery at Stanlow owned by Shell, quickly emerged. Posters proclaiming 'No oil at Amlwch' were put up and an anti-oil campaign was launched to save Amlwch’s coast.

Shell financed the project but the Anglesey County Council had to pay for the necessary modifications to the harbour. Residents feared it would lead to a reduction in tourism, employment of cheap imported labour and environmental damage.

It was argued projects like this one are a consequence of society’s dependence on oil fuelled technology. In the past 40 years, technological innovation has led to the discovery of alternative sources of energy which presumably would make these projects less common.

However, Mark Jansen recently reported for the Ecologist on a campaign to stop Shell from building a gas pipeline in the parish of Kilcommon Erris in County Mayoa, a remote area of western Ireland. The pipeline would bring gas from the Corrib gas field in the Atlantic ocean to a refinery in Bellanaboy Bridge.

A new documentary, called The Pipe, highlights the plight of residents who are fighting to stop work on the project, one of whom even went on a hunger strike. The campaign has become increasingly volatile with five men being jailed for preventing Shell workers from entering their land to work on the project.

Locals are concerned the pipeline will cause disruption to their communities and environmental degradation. There are plans for the pipeline to cross protected lands which provide habitats for rare and vulnerable birds.

Although the pipeline at Amlwch has since been closed, these projects are still necessary because we have failed to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels. Without a genuine push to utilise alternative energy to a greater extent, such projects and their social and environmental side-effects are inevitable.

Read the original essay here

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