‘Ineos is not welcome in Doncaster’ – Anti-fracking campaigners protest at opening stage of Tour de Yorkshire
Anti-fracking campaigners – including a Doncaster councillor - have said chemicals firm Ineos are ‘not welcome’ in the borough.
Protesters made their voices heard in opposition to the fracking giant and their takeover of cycling heavyweights Team Sky.
The newly named ‘Team Ineos’ made their debut under a new guise for the first time as Stage One of the Tour de Yorkshire left Doncaster town centre on Thursday (May 2).
Protesters made clear they supported the event but not Ineos’s involvement in cycling.
Many donned masks depicting Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe as the devil.
Ineos are the company behind exploratory shale gas drilling sites including one close to the village of Misson near Doncaster. They say fracking can reduce bills, provide a new source of energy and high-skilled high paid jobs.
But environmental campaigners say the process can cause leaking methane, water contamination and earthquakes.
Campaigners positioned themselves with banners and placards close to the Team Ineos bus before the race began.
The protest close to the bus was largely peaceful but some heated conversations were exchanged with one fan saying ‘politics should be separate to sport’.
One protester also repeatedly shouted ‘sell outs’ to Team Ineos riders and staff before making the way to the start line.
The cycling team were largely greeted by cheers but were booed by a section of the crowd as they appeared on stage while others shouted ‘shame on you’.
Doncaster councillor Dave Shaw who also is a key member of Frack Free South Yorkshire, previously said it was ‘rank hypocrisy’ Team Sky rode with messages last year highlighting ocean pollution.
He added the event was great for Doncaster and the region but his issue was solely on Ineos and their fracking operations.
“We’re here to highlight Ineos and their takeover of the sponsorship of Team Sky – we don’t want Ineos in Doncaster and they want to frack large parts of Yorkshire and turn it into a gas field,” he said.
“We’ve passed the time where we should be starting a new fossil fuels industry and we want Ineos to know that they are not welcome in Doncaster and the fracking operation either.
“Tour de Yorkshire has been a fantastic thing for Yorkshire they organise it fantastic and our council officers work really hard to make this a great event.
“We want people to really enjoy it and we don’t want to disrupt it but we want to highlight the hypocrisy of Ineos taking over the sponsor from Sky.
“There are a number of Doncaster councillors who are backing us today and support from all around the region have come to show their disdain for Ineos.
“The anti-fracking fraternity are well organised and are very supportive and we wouldn’t miss an opportunity to send a clear message.”
Retired nurse Elizabeth Clifton, 70, and Kath Williamson, 60, both came from Misson to take part in the protest.
“I think Ineos taking over Team Sky has done the whole of cycling a massive disservice to this wonderful sport,” Kath said.
An Ineos spokesman has previously said: “ We operate to the highest safety and environmental standards and utterly refute the claims of a fringe, anti-progress minority.
“As a society we live very privileged lives that would be impossible without the products we manufacture."