Climate emergency council’s links to plastic manufacturer questioned

The 2018 Tour de Yorkshire celebrations in Richmond. Photo: Guy Carpenter.

The use of the public purse to bankroll an international cycling race has again been called into question as a council was challenged over forging links with a firm producing the most environmentally damaging plastic.

Members of Richmondshire District Council, who unanimously declared a climate emergency in July, were asked why they were hosting Tour de Yorkshire stages, when the sponsor of a leading team, Ineos, was Europe’s leading PVC compounds manufacturer.

Team Ineos, which is the successor to Team Sky, plays a high-profile role in the event as its squad features Tour de France winners Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal and has Sir Dave Brailsford at its helm.

The challenge over public funding for the cycling race follows numerous complaints that money generated from rises in council tax should be focused on essential services and that private firms could sponsor the race instead.

North Yorkshire County Council alone has given Welcome to Yorkshire £595,000 in fees and for costs relating to bike races since 2013 and contributes £250,000 more every year in a business rates pool with Scarborough, Craven, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Ryedale councils.

Council leaders have repeatedly argued that the race is excellent value for money in boosting the local economy, showcasing the area and providing an exciting event which draws communities together.

Green Party councillor Kevin Foster told members he had been “very surprised” to see the council had prioritised working with partners to host a finish in Richmond for the Tour de Yorkshire as part of its business plan.

In declaring the emergency in July, the council committed to “ensuring that all strategic decisions, budget formulation and planning policy is enacted to ensure protection of the environment” and to “influencing and inspiring partners across the district, county and region to contribute to achieving the council’s environment and climate goals”.

Cllr Foster said support for the event featuring Team Ineos was incongruous in a business plan where other priorities include improving recycling rates and cutting energy wastage.

Environmentalists claim PVC – which Ineos produces at its Newton Aycliffe plant ten miles from Richmondshire – is the most environmentally damaging plastic as its production, use, and disposal results in the release of toxic, chlorine-based chemicals, which build up in the water, air and food chain.

He also highlighted how Ineos, which has numerous licences to frack in North Yorkshire, had ridiculed the latest moratorium on the controversial energy production method.

Cllr Foster said: “Ineos is a sponsor of a major team, they are also one of the major producers of plastic and have called the Government’s attitude to fracking as ‘pathetic’.

“If this happens in Yorkshire the effect will be devastating for the local communities, tourism and economy. In July, the council voted unanimously to support a climate emergency motion.

“This was an opportunity to back that motion by contacting the Tour de Yorkshire stating we would love to support the tour, however feel unable to because of the Ineos involvement in the event.”

The council’s chairman, Councillor Stuart Parsons replied that the authority had no right of control over international cycling’s rules on teams.

He said: “Saying we won’t host one stage because of the participation of one team means that we would jeopardise the whole event. We would also have to look at all the other teams.

“At the moment fracking in North Yorkshire has been stopped by the current government and it doesn’t appear to be moving forward, so that concern has been lifted temporarily. We haven’t worked out what we are going to do with our climate action plan and until we do I don’t think we should be taking strident positions in that regard.”

North Yorkshire County Council leader and board member of Welcome to Yorkshire, which helps run the Tour de Yorkshire, Councillor Carl Les said: “We can’t chose what companies decide to sponsor in terms of publicity activity for their brands.”


  1. Richmond District Council needs to wake up to encouraging serious polluting companies to gain green wash publicity in their back yard.

  2. If the issue is staging, why use Ineos? What’s wrong with building a stage out of recycled timbers?

  3. Councillor Parsons’ comments re ‘strident positions’ beggar belief. If he doesn’t know what he’s doing with his climate action plan, he should be embarrassed to say so, and he should marshal the council and get behind councillor Foster, who in opposing support in any form for Ineos is at least being proactive about engaging with tackling the climate emergency. Councillor Parsons should be aware that the climate crisis will not put itself on hold simply because he doesn’t know how to begin to tackle it nor because he is supinely deferential to the moneyed petrochemical industry lobby. We need climate action now!

  4. So INEOS is using cycling an all that is healthy about it to wash their dirty reputation and through our council tax we all become complicit.

  5. Richmondshire council should have asked or put in for a vote wether the local public wanted our money spending on a bike race.buisness?it hasnt changed or caused the economy to rise,spectators came for racing,they wont visit this town again.the only thing that has gone up is our council tax bill and again we are getting less for more.richmondshire council is incapable of being in control of fundings.they even charge for PUBLIC toilets,which is disgusting and greed and the highest level.we have no local hospital,public transport is a disgrace,traffic and lack of workers to save costs is ridiculous.pubs and charity shops,a bad Italian and a few other restaurants is all that’s on offer.we the locals expect the money we pay to be spent on updating and making this a better place to live,rather than funding events in a desperate bid to gain tourism and their xmas bonuses.if the worry is about a sponsor that manufactures harmful PC,then simply ban pvc and that’s the end of surely never crossed their minds when they were spending the last few public funds on a bike racing event.richmondshire council is a pure disgrace.

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