Lancaster politicians call for end to £178m pension fracking investments

New data claims that Lancashire invests £187m of its workers pensions a year into fracking companies.

Thursday, 6th September 2018, 10:00 am
Updated Thursday, 6th September 2018, 10:01 am
Fracking protesters in Lancashire last year.

The figures released this week by, Platform and Friends of the Earth show that council-run pension funds were invested in companies including BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips, who are fracking in places like Argentina, Canada and Australia.

Lancashire County Council and the Joint Pensions Partnership said they did not recognise the figures.

County Councillors voted to reject fracking in Lancashire in 2016, but the decision was over-ruled by the government, meaning fracking could go ahead at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton.

Cuadrilla's fracking drill rig at Preston New Road

There have been large scale ongoing protests at the site since then.

Green Party County Coun Gina Dowding, who represents Lancaster Central, is a member of the Lancashire County Pension Fund committee.

She has also attended anti-fracking protests at the Preston New Road site, and last year was fined by the courts for wilful obstruction of a public highway.

She said: “As a member of the Lancashire County Pension Fund committee I have previously asked at meetings whether the fund invests in fracking companies and was told that it does not.

Lancaster MP Cat Smith helps ant-fracking protesters hadn in a petititon at Number 10 Downing Street

“I am appalled to discover that Lancashire Pension Fund invest almost £187m in companies that frack via our indirect investments.

“These companies may not include the likes of Cuadrilla but instead international frackers like BP who have extensive operations in places like Argentina. “We know that fracking devastates communities, landscape and the climate.

“Our councils funds should not support the global fracking industry.”

In a joint statement Lancashire County Council and the Local Pensions Partnership said: “The Local Pensions Partnership manages the authority’s pension fund along with those of a number of other organisations.

County Councillor Gina Dowding and Fylde resident Nick Danby at the 13-person lock-on at Preston New Road

“Decisions about investments are therefore not made by Lancashire County Council.

“The Pension Fund’s assets are invested in line with responsible investment policies which seek to ensure a wide range of risk are considered and this includes the risks of climate change.

“Lancashire County Pension Fund maintains a diversified portfolio which includes exposures to a wide range of sectors including the energy sector where the fund has been actively investing in a range of renewable assets.

“As of June 30th 2018 the Fund holds approximately £346m in green energy investments.”

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith said that if the claims are true, investment into fracking companies “has to stop”.

She added: “Lancashire County Council previously led the way in standing up for what local residents wanted, turning down applications to frack. Now they need to follow through to the next logical step, divestment.”

“Fracking has been banned indefinitely in France and Scotland and in Government, Labour too would ban this environmentally damaging industry.”

Across the UK council pensions invest over £9bn of pensions into fracking companies, according to the data.