"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
Pressure group calls for boycott of photography show
An environmental group is calling on the public to boycott the Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition which opened last weekend
London Rising Tide launched Art Not Oil as a reaction against oil companies sponsoring prestigious art competitions and exhibitions, including BP's sponsorship of the Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery.
However, the organisation has now turned its attention on the Natural History Museum, and is urging members of the public to shun its Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which opened last weekend.
The competition is organised by BBC Wildlife Magazine and London's Natural History Museum and this year attracted more than 18,000 entries from 55 countries.
However the pressure group is asking photographers to send in images illustrating how Shell has impacted on the environment, which will be used to publicise the Art Not Oil campaign.
It has also published on its website contact details for Dr Michael Dixon, the director of the Natural History Museum, the editorial team of BBC Wildlife Magazine, which sponsors the competition, as well as some of the judges, and is urging members of the public to contact them directly to voice their disapproval
It has also run an alternative photographic exhibition called Shell's Wild Lie, which visited London, Birmingham and Manchester, and was accompanied by talks by people 'from Shell-affected communities in the Niger Delta, South Africa and County Mayo in Ireland'.
The Natural History Museum has vigorously defended its choice of sponsor. In a statement, Michael Dixon wrote: 'We fully acknowledge that working with an energy company raises difficult questions about the need to balance meeting current energy needs with the conservation of our natural habitat. The Museum accepts that energy use is a part of everyone's daily life, and everyone has a responsibility to try to use energy sustainably ... We believe that oil companies must be included in any meaningful dialogue about the energy issues facing us all,' reports London Rising Tide on its website.
He defends Shell claiming the multinational is 'taking a reputable scientific approach to addressing the balance between energy needs and environmental protection' and 'is making genuine positive progress on environmental issues.'
He adds that the decision to accept Shell's sponsorship came after the Museum's directors had reviewed the oil company's 'activities'. He concludes: 'The competition has relied on corporate sponsorship throughout its history ... Thanks to Shell's generous support, we have been able to maintain the global reach and impact of the 2006 competition.'
Shell UK Chairman James Smith adds: "The competition highlights the importance of supporting global biodiversity. This is an area of considerable importance to us as a company and one to which we are keenly committed."
The exhibition is at the Natural History Museum from 22 October 2006.
The winner of this year's award is Goran Ehlme's shot of a walrus feeding on clams on the sea floor is a whirl of grey; the animal's face is seen poking through a cloud of disturbed sediment.
For more information on the winning pictures visit The BBC website
For more information about the campaign visit the Art not Oil website