Green Peace has criticised Bournemouth Borough Council for allowing controversial drilling to take place off its busy coast.
ENSCO 72, which arrived yesterday, has been set up four miles of Bournemouth’s beach ahead of a scheme to drill more than 1,000m (3,280ft) below the seabed to explore oil reserves.
Drilling by Corallian Energy will last three weeks before the well is plugged, and the platform removed.
However, Dorset Green Peace coordinator Simon O’Connor believes the council are already “playing Russian roulette with disaster”.
He said: “It’s reckless to think that you can drill off Bournemouth’s busy coast. The council there are really playing Russian roulette with disaster. The risk of any drilling is too high.
“These [the council] are the people who are adamant about the local economy and pristine beaches but a blow out from this rig would affect the whole economy.”
Bournemouth’s beach, which was voted fourth best in Europe, sees 6.8 million visitors each year.
Mr O’Connor added: “It’s Ironic that they [the council] haven’t had much local opposition. The oil and gas industry seems to always be in the benefits of this country”.
Councillor Mike Greene, the portfolio holder for Transport, Cleansing and Waste, said the risk of a leak was minimum because the rig would be standing for less than eight weeks.
“It’s important to understand that this rig will only be up for 40 days.
“We’ve had the reassurance of any leak risk but if oil is found, we have been reassured there will be no drilling in Bournemouth Poole bay.”
The announcement of the rig was met with protesters along Bournemouth’s beach who called for intervention from the council, but Green Party councillor Simon Bull said ‘there was nothing’ the council could do to stop it.
“I Think we should protest but it’s hard to stop it at this point as there’s little we can do to stop this from going ahead.
“If they do discover oil there, it only adds the environmental problem and continues to fuel our oil addiction.
“I encourage residents to let people know that they want it stopped”.
The Petroleum licence operator has to February 28 to assess the level of oil in the Colter prospect.