Criticism at Lancashire County Council’s pension fund investments in companies linked to fracking

Cuadrilla's fracking drill rig at Preston New Road
Cuadrilla's fracking drill rig at Preston New Road

Activists have hit out after it was revealed Lancashire County Council’s pension fund invests in companies linked to fracking.

The county’s fund has invested £187m in oil and gas firms which have fracking interests, according to figures gathered by national campaign group Platform – but which have been contested by the authority.

Across the UK, council pensions reportedly invest over £9bn of pensions into fracking companies, despite what the group says is “fierce local opposition to fracking across the UK”.

Our county council opposed shale gas exploration firm Cuadrilla’s planning application to drill at Preston New Road and Roseacre on the Fylde. A spokesman said the investment decisions were made externally by national services provider Local Pensions Partnership.

Sakina Sheikh, from Platform, said: “The devastating fires and record temperatures this summer have brought the impacts of climate change home. Neither local communities nor our climate can afford for the fracking industry to win.”

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Claire Stephenson, from Frack Free Lancashire, said: “It’s incredibly shortsighted and worrying that Lancashire County Council has such a vested interest in a dirty fossil fuel industry like fracking.

“Climate change is an urgent issue and is happening right now across the globe. Our politicians have an ethical and moral responsibility to divest from climate-damaging fossil fuels and show leadership by supporting clean, renewable energy.”

But Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said: “It’s far from clear to us what UK fracking companies Lancashire County Council has invested in from the data supplied. We can confirm that they have no direct investment in Cuadrilla. However, investing in exploring for and producing natural gas from UK shale is to be welcomed.”

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

“We do not recognise the figures being quoted in this article and the author has not shared any information in support of the statements being made. 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 30 2018 the Fund holds approximately £346m in green energy investments.”