20/10/15

Minister Humphreys publishes assessment report on filming carried out on Sceilg Mhichíl

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Monday) published a report on the recent filming carried out on Sceilg Mhichíl, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a National Monument and a Special Protection Area (SPA) for wildlife. The report was compiled by experts from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the National Monuments Service (NMS), with input from the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Lucasfilm carried out three days of filming on Sceilg Mhichíl in early September. The filming was supervised at all times by experts from the NPWS, the OPW and the NMS, under strict environmental and ecological restrictions. The report finds that the 16 protection measures set out under the consent granted for filming were fully adhered to by Lucasfilm.

The filming was found to have no adverse impact on seabirds, their habitats or other biodiversity on the island. The activities were also found to have no implication for the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Property and no impact on the National Monument.

Two minor incidents are recorded in the report as follows:

  • A crew member snagged their jacket sleeve on the edge of a stone on the entranceway to the ‘Upper Monks’ Garden’. The same section of stone had been displaced by a visitor to the island in mid-June. The opening was immediately propped and repaired by OPW masons.
  • A small amount of diluted water-based paint was spilled on rocks adjacent to the ‘Wailing Woman’. Highly absorbent spill pads were used to immediately mop up the spill. Clean water was also applied. Nests were not compromised in any way.

Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:

“This report outlines the extremely thorough approach which was taken by the experts supervising the shoot and the cast and crew from Lucasfilm during the three days of filming last month. The strict conditions laid down by my Department were fully adhered to, ensuring there was no negative impact on the World Heritage Site.

“The two minor incidents reported were dealt with immediately, and will have no long term impact whatsoever and no ecological consequence. The reality is that the filming posed no greater challenge to the island than the 180 people who visit it every day during tourist season.

“I take my obligations in relation to protecting the wildlife of the island and the National Monument itself extremely seriously. My Department liaised with Lucasfilm for months before I granted consent to ensure that every necessary safeguard was put in place. This project has again proven that natural environments and film making can work in unison, providing the right checks and balances are in place.

“I look forward to the release of the new Star Wars film later this year, when international audiences will be greeted with images of one of Ireland’s most stunning natural and historical features. 2016 promises to be a very exciting year for Irish film, and following the Minister for Finance’s decision to increase the Section 481 film cap in the Budget, I hope we will be in a position to attract further major productions to these shores in the months ahead.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

You can access the report here: http://www.ahg.gov.ie/app/uploads/2015/10/sceilg-mhichil-world-heritage-site-filming-report.pdf

It is the Department’s intention to provide the report to UNESCO and the European Commission. Both bodies were informed of the plans for filming in advance.

Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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