Greater Manchester councils put £1 billion into fracking

Date published: 05 September 2018

A national report released has revealed that Greater Manchester councils are investing £1 billion in fracking companies via the local authority pension fund. 

The news comes as the fracking industry is poised to drill for gas for the first time in seven years in the UK.

Companies such as Shell, BP and Statoil are some of the companies that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, adminstered by Tameside Council, has large investments in.

Public support for fracking is consistently low in the UK, and campaigners are asking public authorities to consider whether these investments are really in the best interests of the pensioners and taxpayers in their area.

Chris Smith, spokesperson for Fossil Free Greater Manchester, said: “It’s shocking to see that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund is investing almost a billion pounds in fracking. That’s almost twice the amount of any other council-run fund.

"Fracking threatens communities, destroys local landscapes, and fuels climate change across the globe. As this industry tries to get a foothold in the UK, it’s crucial that our councils – and Tameside Council in particular – take a clear stand against fracking and divest from the companies responsible.” 

Sakina Sheikh, Divestment Campaigner with Platform added: “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.”

The data is released by, Platform and Friends of the Earth. It ranks council-run pension funds by their investments in companies involved in fracking. 

Full divestment commitments have so far been made by two UK council pension funds, with a further five making partial commitments. The campaign to divest local council pensions has received backing from Unison and the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

In 2016, a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) was offered to oil and gas exploration & production company Hutton Energy PLC Ltd, and their equity holders, Coronation (Oil and Gas) Ltd, to explore Whitworth, Norden, Heywood, Castleton and the majority of Rochdale.

PEDLs grant exclusivity to the licence owner to allow them explore and extract hydrocarbons (including shale gas). The licence itself does not grant automatic permission for investigative operations. 

Planning permission and environmental permits must be given before any drilling, fracking or production can take place.

Tameside Council, which administers the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, did not respond to an invitation to comment.

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