As Sir Jim Ratcliffe unveiled the new cycling kit for Team Ineos in advance of tomorrow’s Tour de Yorkshire, campaigners were making their final preparations to demonstrate that his fracking company was not welcome in the county.
Local anti-fracking groups had originally ordered 10,000 Jim Ratcliffe masks to distribute to spectators lining the route, which takes in Ineos shale gas exploration licences. Another 5,000 have been since been added to the order. There are also likely to be other protests, including land art, during the four days of the race.
The race organisers, Welcome to Yorkshire, said today people were welcome to protest peacefully.
The commercial director of Welcome to Yorkshire, Peter Dodds, told the Independent
“We know the vast majority of protesters very much support the Tour de Yorkshire and don’t wish to spoil the race. There’s complex issues around fracking, and we’re a tourism organisation so we are in close contact with the national parks and local authorities.
“As a tourism body we organise the Tour de Yorkshire to promote Yorkshire to a wider world audience. We’ve no control of the individual sponsorships of the teams taking part. We will manage and deliver the event and people can protest peacefully. You can’t stop people from protesting peacefully, that’s good, that’s fine. That’s everybody’s right.”
At a press conference this morning to unveil the Team Ineos kit, Sir Jim Ratcliffe was quoted by Cycling News as saying most anti-fracking groups were ignorant about fracking:
“I wouldn’t want to get involved in fracking if it was dangerous. All you do is pump water down. I think it’s a real shame that the north of England is being deprived of cheaper energy, and it’s outrageous that the government listens to a small noisy minority instead of looking at the science.”
But opponents of the shale gas industry have highlighted that the team is now funded by a major plastics producer after making a pledge against single use plastic under its previous sponsor, Sky.
Doncaster councillor, Dave Shaw, said:
“It is rank hypocrisy that last year Team Sky rode out with an orca whale on their backs, to highlight ocean pollution, but are now the very team accepting money from one of the largest sources of that pollution. So to find out that Ineos, the UK’s largest fracking company wants to use the Tour De Yorkshire to launch its sponsorship of the former Sky Cycling team, could not go unchallenged”
This morning, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, Craig Bennett, said in a letter to team manager, Sir Dave Brailsford, that cycling supporters would be “deeply disappointed” about the sponsorship from Ineos.
Mr Bennett also said Ineos’s involvement in shale gas exploration was “totally incompatible with tackling climate change”.
“Ineos’s sponsorship of sports teams stems from a desire to greenwash its highly damaging and polluting activities. It is wholly inappropriate to accept sponsorship and thereby facilitate this greenwashing.”
Sir Dave Brailsford, who was at the Team Ineos press conference, denied the cyclists had altered their stance on plastics. Quoted by Cycling News, he said:
“If anyone that can do anything about it, it’s these guys. Sky promoted awareness on plastics. We’re not giving up our single-use plastic ambition at all. Whereas Sky raised the awareness, Jim and the team are the guys that can do something about it. If anything, it’s a step in the right direction.”
In a press release, Sir Jim Ratcliffe said:
“Part of our interest in sports is to help encourage health and fitness in children and adults. Cyclists is a great way to get fit together with easing congestion and pollution in city environments and I want Team Ineos to continue to play its part in getting more and more people to enjoy cycling as a leisure activity and a sport.”
But a spokesperson for Frack Free South Yorkshire responded:
“Ineos also wants to industrialise the Yorkshire countryside with thousands of fracking wells, to help it to make those plastics. It has plans to extract the fossil fuel shale gas by the controversial process of fracking and then burn the gas, producing greenhouse gases.
“The British cycling team is not only changing gear, it is also changing direction: from a team that champions the reduction of plastic pollution to one that is promoting more plastic and climate change. Or maybe it is now a team that just does not care.”
Tour de Yorkshire diary
Thursday 2 May 2019
Tour de Yorkshire. Stage 1: Doncaster-Selby. Details
On yer bike Ineos. Protest against Ineos as it unveils Team Ineos kit on the first day of the Tour de Yorkshire. 10am-2pm, Doncaster Markets, Doncaster, DN1 1NF. Details
Friday 3 May 2019
Tour de Yorkshire. Stage 2: Barnsley-Bedale. Details
On yer bike Ineos 2. Protest against Ineos sponsorship. 1pm-3pm, Barnsley Town Hall, Church Street, Barnsley S70. Details
Saturday 4 May 2019
Tour de Yorkshire. Stage 3: Bridlington-Scarborough. Details
On yer bike Ineos protest. From 12 noon. Queen’s Parade, opposite the Clifton Hotel, Scarborough. Details
Sunday 5 May 2019
Tour de Yorkshire. Stage 4: Halifax-Leeds. Details
Ineos greenwash at the Tour de Yorkshire. 1.30pm-5.30pm, The George, Great George Street, Leeds LS1 3BB. Details
- Cycling News said the Ineos press conference was held in the Yorkshire village of Linton and attended by a small number of media. DrillOrDrop was not invited.