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The producers of Star Wars have been accused of going to “the dark side” by filming on the UNESCO World Heritage site of Skellig Michael in Ireland.
Part of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the seventh installment of the series, is being shot on the rock formation that lies of the southwest coast of the country in the Atlantic Ocean.
Spokesman Charles Stanley-Smith of local conservation charity An Taisce said the organization supported “the role of film in promoting Ireland’s wonderful built and natural heritage."
“But this cannot be done at the cost of destroying it... . All to satisfy the transient interest of a film company whose purpose is to use this internationally significant UNESCO World Heritage Site — merely as film set,” he said in a statement released on Sunday.
Stanley-Smith accused the Irish government of keeping the organization and the public “deliberately and entirely in the dark” about the filming, and said crews had already arrived on the island by the time the organization was notified.
An Taisce is now “considering any and all options on this matter including legal challenge,” he added.
The larger of two Skellig Islands, Skellig Michael sits around 10 miles off the coast of County Kerry in the southwest of the country.
A Christian monastery was founded on the island between the 6th and 8th centuries and remained continuously occupied until it was abandoned in the late 12th century.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, the site is specially designated for the protection of certain bird species and their habitat under both European Union and Irish Law.
On Monday, Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys confirmed that she has granted consent for Lucasfilm to use the site.
But she said she had “balanced the positive benefit it will reap for the Irish film industry and the South Kerry region with the need to ensure that the island's unique environment and wildlife is fully protected."
"It is very easy to understand why its stunning scenery has caught the attention of the makers of one of the world's biggest film franchises," she added.