Star Wars: Episode VIII’s filming restrictions at Skellig Michael.

Hot on the heels of a new actor possibly portraying Artoo at Skellig Michael, our bud Vic over at The Movie Bit has obtained the filming restrictions for Star Wars: Episode VIII at Skellig Michael. The restrictions are not lax as there are a lot of reasons to protect the fragile habitat of the birds on the island:

  1. A Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG) representative will be present on the island during the project. The DAHG representative will have full discretion to modify any

aspect of this consent or to revoke it at any time. The applicant will comply with any direction given by the DAHG representative.

REASON – To protect the SPA, to ensure that protection and avoidance measures are complied with in full and to address unforeseen issues.

  1. All avoidance and protection measures proposed in the application document to be undertaken in full and to the satisfaction of the DAHG representative on – site.

REASON – To ensure that there is no significant disturbance to species or damage to habitats.

  1. The applicant shall ensure to the satisfaction of the on site DAHG representative that nest sites are not damaged or access to and from them impeded in the course of this project.

REASON – to ensure that there is no significant disturbance to species or damage to habitats.

  1. Helicopter landings on the Island to be limited to the existing helipad and restricted to 16 returns in total over the three weeks and no more than four return flights in any one day. A maximum of four additional contingency flights, if required, may be requested but must be agreed by DAHG representative in advance.

REASON – to avoid any significant disturbance to species

  1. Helicopter presence on helipad to be limited to disembarking and boarding of passengers only and immediate turnaround to be undertaken.

REASON – To avoid any prolonged disturbance at helipad site.

  1. Personnel on the island to be limited to maximum numbers set out in Appendix 1 paragraph 4.7 of proposal and combined film – related personnel (incl. OPW and DAHG officials) and tourists on the island shall not exceed 180 at any time.

REASON – to avoid any increase of numbers of people at the site at one time beyond those permitted in Site Management Plan.

  1. Consent is confined to 7th September 2015 to 25th September 2015 inclusive.

REASON – to ensure project is limited to proposed dates

  1. No personnel to arrive on the island before 07:00. All personnel to have quit the island each day by 20:00, except for the dusk filming crew (maximum 15 persons) 21:00 on the XXXX to XXXX September, save with express consent of DAHG representative.

REASON – to ensure that the island is vacated when nocturnal birds emerge from or enter their nests.

  1. The applicant will strictly adhere to biosecurity protocols for the control of alien species as set out in 4.2.6.2. Responsibility for ensuring biosecurity must be assigned to a specified person and a record kept of same.

REASON – To ensure that no alien species of plants or animals are introduced to the Island.

  1. Daily transport to and from the Island for the DAHG representatives to be provided by the applicant. REASON – To ensure DAHG representative’s presence on site
  1. The salary and expenses (at standard civil service rates) of the DAHG representatives to bemet by the applicant (subject to a maximum of €12000).

REASON – Applicant to meet taxpayers’ costs incurred.

  1. The applicant accepts that the Department is not liable for any losses or costs incurred by the applicant in regard to restrictions or directions given in the course of the project pursuant to this consent and to the protection of the site as a Special Protection Area and otherwise.

REASON – Project risk to be borne by applicant.

  1. For the production of aerial filming (other than that subject to condition 14) the helicopter will take a standby position outside of the SPA boundary (or a minimum of 500m from the Great Skellig or 1km from Little Skellig) and only enter daily to
    undertake passes of no more than 90 to 180 seconds each)

In any event, aggregated aerial filming will not exceed 45 minutes per day of filming activity. The approaching flight path will be a distance of more than 100m above the cliffs.

REASON – to avoid significant disturbance of cliff nesting birds.

  1. For the production of tile shots the hovering helicopter must not take a position closer than 100m from the Great Skellig. When not actively filming, the helicopter should position itself outside of the SPA or not within 500m of Great Skellig or 1km of Little Skellig. Any variation of this condition must be approved by the on site DAHG representative in advance.

REASON – to avoid significant disturbance of cliff nesting birds.

  1. The Department retains the right to extend the restrictions or to impose further restrictionsif adverse reactions by the breeding seabirds are observed.

After weeks of articles and debates about the filming, this seems to be the compromise that was made. I think it is really great that Star Wars gets to film at such a special location and respecting the environment in which they’re doing so in the least they can do. Some fear that the fame being brought to the location is going ensure it is exploited and the rare birds on the island will eventually be harmed.

While it is not exactly huge news about the next Star Wars film after The Force Awakens, it does give us insight into what it takes to make a movie at such a unique place in the world as Skellig Michael.

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