A South African court has halted oil giant Shell’s seismic testing for oil and gas along the country’s eastern coastline, pending a final ruling.

The decision has been hailed by environmentalists who fear that the sound blasting will harm marine life.

In his ruling, High Court Judge Gerald Bloem said that Shell’s right to explore the waters near the Wild Coast “was awarded on the basis of a substantially flawed consultation process”.

Welcoming the ruling, local campaigner Nonhle Mbuthuma said “we are glad that the judge has recognized that their ocean livelihoods must not be sacrificed for short term profit.”

South Africa’s Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe had condemned the project’s critics, saying they wanted to deprive Africa of energy resources.