Greenpeace activist has 'no regrets' over New Zealand protest

Media caption,
Sara Howell said she felt empowered after facing off with a 21,000 tonne ship

A climate activist arrested for swimming in front of the world's largest oil exploration ship during a Greenpeace protest has "no regrets".

Sara Howell, 27, of Pembrokeshire, was taken to court over her actions alongside the Amazon Warrior, in 2017.

The protest in New Zealand was against offshore drilling, and forced the vessel to stop its work.

Ms Howell appeared at Napier District Court, but was discharged without conviction.

Now back at home with her parents and sister in Dinas Cross, Ms Howell said she still believed it was the right thing to do.

Image caption,
Sara Howell faced court proceedings after the incident

She had been carrying out voluntary work for Greenpeace in New Zealand and joined the boat as a cook and general helper, before agreeing to be one of three protesters, including Greenpeace director Russel Norman, who got into the water.

"I thought about how it could affect my life, the fact that there could be court proceedings, and about all of the volunteering I'd done before, and I just believed that this was an opportunity where I could finally do something physical, to put my body in the way of something that I felt was doing great harm," Ms Howell said.

Image source, Jason Blair
Image caption,
The protesters took to the water in front of the Amazon Warrior vessel

"It was pretty powerful being in the water, being so small, with this 100m long boat coming towards you, and then seeing it start changing course, and knowing that's me and Russel, making that change direction."

Image source, Jason Blair
Image caption,
The protesters - seen on the right - were dwarfed by the ship

She added she appreciated the support from home during that time, especially as she faced legal action.

"My parents were worried, but also accepted that my life had slowly been leading towards this," she said.

"Growing up in the landscape of north Pembrokeshire, which is so beautiful, and spending so much of my teenage years outdoors, has given me an awareness of how much a part of the natural world we all are, and it seemed natural to want to protect what I saw as being damaged or destroyed."

She said she would like to return to New Zealand, and she would consider taking part in other protests.

Image source, Jason Blair
Image caption,
They had flags in the water during the protest

"What I've been involved in before was more community in Pembrokeshire before going to London and getting involved with environmental work.

"Activism could be anything from creating a great soil, to forming a community choir, but sometimes putting your body in the way of something that you see as doing a great harm may be right for you, and it was right for me."