Organisers of the Shell-sponsored Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest have slammed an environmental groupu2019s call for the public to boycott the newly opened showcase of winning images.

Organisers of the Shell-sponsored Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest have slammed an environmental group?s call for the public to boycott the newly opened showcase of winning images.

A pressure group called London Rising Tide has urged the public to boycott the exhibition which opened at The Natural History Museum in London ten days ago.

However, the museum – which helps organise the contest and hosts the resulting exhibition – hit back claiming that Shell takes a ?reputable scientific approach to addressing the balance between energy needs and environmental protection?.

In a petition against Shell?s sponsorship the environmental group claimed: ?Despite attempts to ?greenwash? its reputation via blanket advertising and cultural sponsorship, Shell is still heavily implicated in producing ever-greater quantities of the oil and gas that are destabilising our climate to such an alarming degree.?

In a statement the museum admitted: ?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.?

But it claimed that Shell is ?making genuine positive progress on environmental issues through such things as the application of the Biodiversity Standard’.

A spokeswoman for Shell told us: ?We are committed to respecting the basic concept of protected areas. Shell does not operate in natural World Heritage Sites and seeks partnerships to both maintain ecosystems and make positive contributions to conserving global biodiversity.?

This year?s competition attracted more than 18,000 entries and was won by Swedish photographer Göran Ehlmé.

For details of the exhibition, which runs until 29 April 2007, call The Natural History Museum on 020 7942 5654 or go to www.nhm.ac.uk.