Coun­cil pen­sion funds in­vested in frack­ing firms

Cam­paign­ers cri­tise au­thor­ity af­ter £60 mil­lion fig­ure re­vealed

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by SO­PHIE DONO­VAN tms-newsed­i­tor@reach­plc.com

MORE than £60 mil­lion has been in­vested by Bucks County Coun­cil’s pen­sion fund in com­pa­nies which rely on frack­ing, ac­cord­ing to a char­ity’s re­search.

Across the coun­try £9 bil­lion has been in­vested in com­pa­nies in­volved in frack­ing by UK coun­cil pen­sion funds, the char­i­ties 350.org, Plat­form and Friends of the Earth have found.

The process of forc­ing liq­uid at high pres­sure into the earth to open up fis­sures to ex­tract oil and gas - com­monly known as ‘frack­ing’ - has proven con­tro­ver­sial.

Cam­paign­ers say it can cause en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age, pol­lut­ing wa­ter sources and caus­ing tremors. John Chil­ver, the county coun­cil’s cabi­net mem­ber for re­sources, said the Buck­ing­hamshire Pen­sion Fund Com­mit­tee man­ages the Buck­ing­hamshire Lo­cal Govern­ment Pen­sion Scheme on be­half of more than 200 em­ploy­ers across the county.

He claimed the com­mit­tee’s in­vest­ment strat­egy recog­nises that en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and cor­po­rate gov­er­nance is­sues, in­clud­ing cli­mate change, can have ma­te­ri­ally sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment im­pli­ca­tions, and that as a re­spon­si­ble in­vestor the com­mit­tee con­sid­ers such is­sues in all in­vest­ment de­ci­sions.

Ac­cord­ing to a coun­cil spokesman, the com­mit­tee be­lieves that en­gag­ing with in­vestee com­pa­nies on all is­sues to de­liver long term change de­liv­ers a more re­spon­si­ble in­vest­ment ap­proach than a blan­ket de­ci­sion to di­vest from any group of com­pa­nies.

Cllr Chil­ver said: “The com­mit­tee is work­ing along­side the other pen- sion funds within the Brunel Pen­sion Part­ner­ship to fur­ther de­velop their ap­proach on these is­sues, and to im­prove the re­port­ing in this area, in­clud­ing demon­strat­ing the im­pact of our en­gage­ment with the fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies.”

Sak­ina Sheikh, di­vest­ment cam­paigner with Plat­form, said: “The dev­as­tat­ing fires and record tem­per­a­tures this sum­mer have brought the im­pacts of cli­mate change home.

“Nei­ther lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties or our cli­mate can af­ford for the frack­ing in­dus­try to win.

“Our coun­cils are pro­vid­ing ev­ery­day sup­port to the frack­ers, it’s time to stop. It’s time to di­vest from fos­sil fu­els.”

Deirdre Duff, di­vest­ment cam­paigner with Friends of the Earth, said: “UK coun­cils should know bet­ter than to in­vest in frack­ing com­pa­nies.

“These com­pa­nies are in­flict­ing their frack­ing op­er­a­tions on com­mu­ni­ties around the world, and this can have sig­nif­i­cant im­pacts.

“Many UK coun­cils have rightly op­posed frack­ing in their own area – how­ever it is shock­ing that they still sup­port the global frack­ing in­dus­try.

“We should re­mem­ber too that the cli­mate change caused by frack­ing will af­fect us all, no mat­ter where the frack­ing is con­ducted.”

A frack­ing drill rig

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