Almost £34m of Redbridge Council pension fund indirectly invested in fracking, figures reveal

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 September 2018

Environmental activists slow down a lorry heading to the Cuadrilla exploratory drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, as anti fracking demonstrations continue.

Environmental activists slow down a lorry heading to the Cuadrilla exploratory drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, as anti fracking demonstrations continue.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Almost £34m of Redbridge Council’s pension fund is indirectly invested in companies involved with fracking, new data reveals.

An investigation by three campaign groups – Friends of the Earth, and Platform – claims that 4.57pc of the Labour-run council’s £743m pension fund is indirectly linked to fracking.

This places it as the 10th worst in the UK in terms of the proportion of its pension fund which has links to this controversial method of oil and gas extraction.

The data has been released amid the groups’ calls for local authorities to divest - meaning move their money - from companies which support this practice to those who do not.

When approached by the Recorder for comment, Council leader cllr Jas Athwal said the council was not in a position to comment on the figures.

He clarified that the pension fund does not hold any direct investments in companies as it invests through pooled units.

He said: “As a result, the Redbridge pension fund does not have immediate access to the underlying investments within these units.

“The units are managed by external fund managers and invest in a range of specific products to meet the pension fund’s investment objectives.”

He said that the pension fund has not instructed its fund managers to disinvest from choosing certain stocks or sectors but requires the fund manager to consider, amongst other factors, the effects of social, environmental and governance issues on the performance of the company.

He added: “In future, we will look at divesting our pension fund investments, but we want to ensure we get the best deal possible to the pensions of our employees.”

Hydralic fracturing, or fracking, involves injecting liquid at a high pressure into shale rock in the ground to force open existing fissures, releasing stores of oil and gas.

Environmentalists are concerned that potentially carcinogenic chemicals in the liquid could escape and contaminate ground water around fracking sites as well as triggering small tremors.

But the industry suggests instances of pollution are the results of bad practise, rather than an inherent risk.

In May 2017, the Labour Party’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said the party would ban fracking if elected in to power.

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