SCORES of protestors gathered near Bournemouth beach today to voice objections to planned oil drilling in Poole Bay.
A coalition of environmental groups including Global Justice Bournemouth, Save Our Shores Bournemouth, the South East Dorset Green Party and Extinction Rebellion
Their demonstration was timed to coincide with the arrival of the 'jack-up' platform ENSCO 72, the oil rig set to drill an appraisal well which is being towed from northern Scotland.
Corallian Energy, the company behind the exploratory well, wants to drill for 40 days in Poole Bay's Colter prospect.
The rig is due to arrive on Monday.
Speaking at Saturday's protest event, Angela Pooley, from East Dorset, said: "I think the most important thing is that the groups come together and send out the message I do not want this to happen.
"It is somewhat ironic that the government refused permission for the offshore windfarm on the grounds of the impact on the Jurassic Coast, yet they've given permission for this to happen.
Angela told a gathering of about 20 years ago in East Dorset that she had a permanent oil rig offshore.
"Sadly, what happened is that BP started extracting oil horizontally, which is happening now."
She also mentioned several licenses for oil extraction on land in Dorset.
"It's not just about this project," she added. "It is about the whole principal of extracting oil.
"We need to invest more in renewable energy projects, and I was in Paris at the climate talks and it was so inspiring to see so many people coming together.
"But it is so sad and depressing that they have not been listened to."
The Colter prospect is expected to yield around 23 million barrels of oil, which can be extracted from the existing facility at the Wytch Farm in Poole Harbor. Wytch Farm is the largest offshore oilfield in western Europe.
A statement from Corallian said: "We look forward to drilling the Colter appraisal and will update shareholders when drilling commences.
"We assess the pre-drill chance of success of the Colter to 58 per cent."
Opponents to the drilling say any spill of oil or drilling chemicals, although unlikely, could spell disaster for marine life and the tourism industry.