Last summer, J.J. Abrams and company headed to Skellig Michael off the Irish coast, to get that Star Wars scenic backdrop vibe only a World Heritage site can give. A few locals were stoked that Luke Skywalker was traipsing through the island, which is home to an ancient monastery, as well as puffins, gannets, arctic terns, and a few other bird species. It is not home to any rats, which means that the birds can lay eggs without concern for ovivorous rodents, but also that environmentalists are not fans of large numbers of people visiting and potentially bringing along wee furry stowaways — even if such visitors can bullseye a womp rat in their T-16 back home.
The Star Wars crew may be returning to Skellig Michael in September — Episode VIII, perhaps? — but An Taise, a charity that calls itself the National Trust for Ireland, is not happy. According to local Irish news outlet Raidió Teilifís Éireann, An Taise is worried that if poor weather conditions were to arise, the boats and equipment will not be as well inspected for invasive species, putting the isle’s birds at risk.
Last July, residents — who had been initially told the film crews were working on a puffin documentary — enjoyed a small Star Wars economic boon, prompting ad/mashups like this one:
This is not the first Star Wars set to find itself at the center of controversy. In March, rumors abounded that ISIS had co-opted the old Tatooine sets in Tunisia, which Tunisian officials denied.