FoE has accused the company of ‘blatant hypocrisy’ and ‘seeking to link its brand with wildlife conservation’ following the announcement of its sponsorship deal of the British Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

The snapper’s contest, organised by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, will be renamed the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Announcing the new promotion, Shell’s UK chairman James Smith said: “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.”

But FoE claims the new deal would undermine everything the competition stood for.

Shell’s record on nature conservation has often been challenged by environmentalists and its current activities off Sakhalin in Russia’s Far East have been the subject of a heated war of words.

The planned facilities would share the sea with the tiny surviving population of Western Pacific Grey Wales and critics of the scheme have said it would force them into extinction.

An independent report commissioned by Shell in an attempt to end the debate had the world’s whale experts reaching much the same conclusion (see related story).

FoE’s executive director Tony Juniper said: “If Shell put half the effort into cleaning up its act as it puts into promoting a green image then it might be entitled to trumpet its support for global biodiversity.

“The sad reality is that after years of making green claims this company is still causing unacceptable damage to wildlife, is polluting local communities and is helping to accelerate climate change.”

Shell was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

By Sam Bond

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