Posted by: westlancashirerecord | September 4, 2018

LCC Boosting Staff Pensions From Fracking?

While West Lancashire councillors and some local MPs including Rosie Cooper  were demonstrating against local fracking, it was disclosed that Lancashire’s pension fund invests £187m in fracking companies, leading anti-fracking campaigners to call for divestment given vociferous local opposition to the practice.

Despite protesters having maintained a round-the-clock vigil on the roadside at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas exploration site near Blackpool for two years, the data has revealed that Lancashire’s pension fund invests 2.62% of its pensions in companies that rely on fracking according to figures released by , Platform, and Friends of the Earth.

Across the UK, council pensions invest over £9 billion of pensions into fracking companies despite a group of independent professionals pointing to “convincing evidence that fracking is a danger to the health and well-being of people living near well sites,” in a letter to Conservative MP, Sarah Wollaston.

Due to Home Secretary Sajid Javid having accepted a Cuadrilla appeal on a decision not to allow fracking in Lancashire, drilling for gas is set to start for the first time in seven years in the UK in spite of fierce local opposition and experts citing “studies pointing to an increase in premature births, miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, heart attacks, migraines, childhood asthma and a variety of other lung, and skin diseases,” near well sites.

Despite many councils having voted against fracking, council-run funds remain invested in the industry in companies such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips, who are fracking in places like Argentina, Canada, and Australia.

Councillor Gina Dowding , member of the Lancashire County Pension Fund committee said “I have previously asked at meetings whether the fund invests in fracking companies and was told that it does not. I am appalled to discover that Lancashire Pension Fund invest almost £187 million in companies that frack, via our indirect investments. These companies may not include the likes of Cuadrilla but instead include 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”.

Sakina Sheikh, Divestment Campaigner with Platform, added “The devastating fires and record temperatures this summer have probably brought the impacts of climate change home. Neither local communities nor 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”.

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