Extinction Rebellion target Ineos and British Cycling with protests

Pair climb BC's HQ with sign that says "Get Shell Out of British Cycling"

British Cycling protest
(Image credit: XR Midlands)

Two protesters from Extinction Rebellion scaled the National Cycling Centre in Manchester on Sunday to protest British Cycling's partnership with Shell. On Monday, activists from the same organisation sprayed Ineos' London headquarters in black paint to voice their opposition to the chemical company.

On Sunday, a pair of protestors climbed above the entrance to British Cycling's headquarters displaying a banner which read "Get Shell out of British Cycling" and let off flares. They were joined by more protestors and a samba band on the ground.

On Monday, a pair climbed the offices of Ineos in London to spray it with black paint. Others outside held a banner which read "Ineos = Plastic = Death". The multinational company sponsors the Ineos Grenadiers cycling team.

Last month, it was announced that British Cycling had signed a long-term partnership with the multinational oil and gas giant Shell, that will bring in "wide-ranging support and investment".

The eight-year deal makes Shell UK an "Official Partner" of British Cycling, which has previously been sponsored by Sky and HSBC. Since the end of 2021, BC has been without a top-level sponsor but Shell will take a lower role than lead sponsor in this deal, which runs until 2030.

In a press release sent out when the deal was made public, British Cycling said that the partnership will see a shared commitment to "supporting Great Britain’s cyclists and para-cyclists through the sharing of world-class innovation and expertise; accelerating British Cycling’s path to net zero; and helping more – and wider groups of – people to ride, including ways to make cycling more accessible for disabled people".

Since then, multiple environmental groups have condemned the deal, as have individual BC members, many of whom have left the organisation.

One of the protestors on Sunday, Mark Stevens, cycled from West Yorkshire to take part in the demonstration, said that BC was helping Shell "look green". He said he would not be renewing his membership.

“All the science says fossil fuels have caused the climate crisis," he said in a statement. "Shell pretends it’s a green company but they’ve spent more money on advertising than on renewable energy! And British Cycling is actually helping them to look green when they’re carrying on causing the crisis. I’m just so angry.”

Another member of the demo, Jo Blackman, also said that she would be resigning from her BC membership over the issue. 

“Shell just wants to make itself look green - but cyclists can see through their game," she said. "British Cycling is so naive to have fallen for Shell’s greenwashing. The Chief Executive resigning isn’t enough, because they’re still taking the money."

At the end of October, BC CEO Brian Facer stepped down from his role with immediate effect, although Cycling Weekly understand that it had no impact on the Shell agreement.

In a statement shared last month, Greenpeace’s UK policy director Dr Doug Parr called Shell’s partnership with British Cycling “brazen greenwash”.

“The idea of Shell helping British Cycling reach net zero is as absurd as beef farmers advising lettuce farmers on how to go vegan," the Greenpeace director added. 

The agreement between BC and Shell includes specific investment from Shell UK to support a new programme, which will be called Limitless, which will look to break down the barriers disabled people face when accessing cycling.

Dani Every, Acting CEO for British Cycling said: “We respect the public’s right to protest and have worked to engage with and listen to those within our sport and more widely on the benefits that our partnership with Shell UK will bring.

 “The eight-year partnership will see a long-term, shared commitment to: supporting Great Britain’s cyclists and para-cyclists through the sharing of world-class innovation and expertise; accelerating British Cycling’s path to net zero; and delivering ways to make cycling more accessible for disabled people.”

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