7 Feb 2013

Oil ship occupiers sentenced to community service

6:16 pm on 7 February 2013

Seven Greenpeace protesters who occupied an oil drilling ship have been sentenced to community service and ordered to pay Port Taranaki reparation.

The activists, including actor Lucy Lawless, staged a four-day protest 50 metres up the drilling tower of the Noble Discoverer from 24 February last year against Shell Todd's plans to build three exploratory oil wells in the Arctic.

At the New Plymouth District Court on Thursday, all seven were sentenced to 120 hours of community service and each ordered to pay $650 in reparation.

Judge Alan Roberts said although the offending was on a moderate scale, it was important to denounce the protesters' conduct and deter others.

Judge Roberts said their actions were a deliberate breach of port security and the fourth breach by protesters in the past two years, forcing the port to step up security and possibly compromising the public's use of nearby Ngamotu Beach.

However, the judge ruled out making the protesters pay Shell Todd Oil the $640,000 it had claimed in lost income.

Speaking after her court appearance, Lucy Lawless said she didn't regret her part in the protest.

"We're all ordinarily very law-abiding citizens, we care very much about our roles in the community.

"Sometimes, you're feelings are so strong that the word is not getting out about the signs of climate change, so we did not feel that we had any option but to stand up for the environment."

Lawless says she may be cleaning toilets as part of her sentence.