Star Wars VII Cast And Crew In Skellig Michael, Filming Questioned By Wildlife Experts

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By Tanya Diente | July 31, 2014 2:23 PM EST

"Star Wars: Episode VII" filming is now in England, in an Irish island called Skellig Michael. However, reports claimed filming has angered wildlife experts who questioned the timing of the cast and crew's visit.

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People dressed as "Star Wars" characters Boba Fett (L) and a Stormtrooper pose at the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, known as E3, in Los Angeles, California June 11, 2014.

Negotiations for filming "Star Wars: Episode VII" in Skellig Michael began over six months ago according to Telegraph UK. During that time the production team worried that news leakage over their proposed filming may attract complaints from conservation groups. That seems to be the case when Dr. Steve Newton of Birdwatch Ireland questioned the timing of the filming.

Skellig Michael is an island sanctuary for birds such as puffins, many shearwaters and storm petrels. Additionally, Telegraph UK claimed the island located off the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry is also home to colonies of peregrine falcons and guillemots. All these birds reportedly breed in July.

Now with production of "Star Wars VII" said to be taking place on the island, Dr. Steve Newton expressed his concern to Radio Kerry that breeding may be interrupted. Newton preferred if filming was done after the breeding season in September, which he thought was the original schedule of filming.

Telegraph UK quoted Newton when he said, "It seems a little inappropriate to do it during July."

Additionally, he claimed most of the birds breed underground so it's hard to determine the effects the filming will do to them.

However, the Irish Film Board reportedly approved the "Star Wars VII" filming with a program specifically designed to avoid any disturbance to the breeding birds. This program, according to Telegraph UK, was approved by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The Irish Dependent also reported the cast and crew of "Star Wars: Episode VII" arrived on Skellig Michael island on Monday, July 28, and will resume filming until Wednesday, July 30. These days the island is close to the public.

The island is also known for its historical background when it was discovered to retain ruins of its monastic settlement which dates back to the 6th Century. Thus it was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Access to the island is said to be strictly monitored by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and its 14 licensed boats are only allowed to take passengers across once a day from May to September. Irish Dependent reported boatmen from Portmagee who took the cast and crew across were given €1,000 each (around $ 1,339) to compensate for the loss of their tourist earnings due to the "Star Wars: Episode VII" filming in Skellig Michael.


Source: YouTube/Deanna Keahey

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(Photo: REUTERS / Jonathan Alcorn)
People dressed as "Star Wars" characters Boba Fett (L) and a Stormtrooper pose at the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, known as E3, in Los Angeles, California June 11, 2014.
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