ENVIRONMENTAL campaigning groups are calling for Sir Ben Ainslie’s sailing team sponsor Ineos to be banned from the America’s Cup.
Vivienne Westwood’s son Joe Corre yesterday led environmental protesters dressed as marine life to the headquarters of World Sailing to deliver an open letter asking the governing body to disassociate itself from the ‘environmentally destructive’ sponsor.
Ineos, an industrial firm, has partnered with Sir Ben Ainslie’s Portsmouth-based sailing team in a £110m bid to win the oldest international sporting trophy in the world, in 2021.
The two groups said Ineos is about fracking, plastics and pollution of the climate and oceans – not about the ethical and environmental standards of the World Sailing Association.
The letter states: ‘It is with grave concern and disappointment that we have witnessed your ongoing silence and complicity in relation to Ineos Team UK, an America’s Cup 2021 entrant sponsored by a company known for its environmentally destructive practices and ongoing assault on the democratic right to protest.
‘Ineos is the largest owner of shale gas – ‘fracking’ – licences in the UK.
‘Evidence demonstrates fracking contributes substantially to climate change and global warming and involves massive violations of a range of substantive and procedural human rights.
‘This is not “very environmentally aware” behaviour that World Sailing claims to embody and promote.’
Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven and Dame Vivienne Westwood are two of 32 supporters to back the letter.
In a statement Ineos Team UK did not comment on the letter, but said: ‘As a sailing team, ocean debris is a clear concern, the oceans are our playground and all at Ineos Team UK are passionate about their protection.
Ray Cobbett, chair of the Havant branch of Friends of the Earth, said: ‘Anything connected with fracking is completely unacceptable and should be banned.
‘I can’t imagine Ben Ainslie as someone who appreciates the oceans, to want anything other than clean oceans.
‘But accepting sponsorship from a company like this isn’t great.
‘In the past Friends of the Earth has declined partnerships with companies whose moral or ethical codes we don’t agree with.’