Star Wars 7 to shoot on remote Irish island – but bird experts say the location is "inappropriate"

UNESCO site Skellig Michael, in County Kerry, could double for a Jedi Academy in the sci-fi movie, but locals fear for the island's rare wildife

Star Wars 7 to shoot on remote Irish island – but bird experts say the location is "inappropriate"
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After scenes have been filmed in Abu Dhabi and Pinewood Studios, shotting for the first Disney-produced Star Wars movie will take place on Ireland’s unpopulated island of Skellig Michael.

Sitting just off the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, this lush world heritage site in the Atlantic Ocean could perhaps double as a Jedi knight hideaway. Along with a monastic settlement that dates back to the 6th Century, Skellig Michael is also known for its rare bird population, including puffins and Manx shearwaters and is designated a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive.

"Skellig Michael is being made available for a film production shoot on the island," said an Ireland’s Office of Public Works official to the Kerry's Eye newspaper. "This production is being fully supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Irish Film Board".

Dr Stephen Newton, senior seabird conservation officer with Birdwatch Ireland, explained to Radio Kerry that filming scenes from Star Wars 7 on Skellig Michael is "a little bit inappropriate". Newton said that filming would be more appropriate in September after breading season.

"I would be quite happy if the filming took place out of the breeding season and I'm led to believe it was originally scheduled for September, which is a much better time of year to be doing this sort of thing."

Star Wars 7 cast and crew are expected to descend on Ireland in the next few days. The movie, set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, will star Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fischer and Domhnall Gleeson, and is slated for release in December 2015.

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