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Campaigners vent fury at Shell board: 28 June 2005

Financial Times: Campaigners vent fury at Shell board: 28 June 2005

Human rights campaigners on Tuesday urged Royal Dutch/Shell to improve its environmental policy, seizing the platform of the energy group’s Dutch annual meeting in Scheveningen to accuse it of “polluting communities and destroying lives”.

A string of campaigners expressed fury and frustration at what they claimed was the company’s failure to address the concerns of local communities.

“Our lives are being destroyed,” said one man, referring to oil spills and gas flaring in Africa’s Niger delta.

A campaigner dressed as the grim reaper, who said he represented communities in Durban, South Africa, attempted to present Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive, with an award for the “worst corporate practice”. He was barred from climbing onto the stage by a security guard.

The issue dominated the opening of the meeting, the centre-piece of which is scheduled to be a vote on the unification of the company’s UK and Dutch holding companies after nearly a century of dual-headed governance.

The Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth lined up half-a-dozen residents who had travelled thousands of miles from the “fence-line communities” next to Royal Dutch/Shell refineries and plants in the US, Nigeria, Ireland, South Africa and the Philippines. The company defended its environmental record but said it took seriously the concerns raised. Rob Routs, a member of its new executive board, said: “We are not perfect but we are working hard to improve our environmental record.”

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