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Councillor calls for Somerset to sell fossil fuel investments

ALOCALdistrict councillor has raised concerns about the amount of money Somerset County Council has tied up in  what he describes as “risky” fossil fuel investments.

Shane Collins is a district councillor for Frome’s Keyford Ward, and is the leader of Mendip District Council’s Green Party group.

He spoke out after learning that over £121million of the county authority’s pension fund is held in fossil fuel companies such as Shell and BP. He is now calling on the council to follow the lead of those in Bristol and Oxford and remove the investments.

Cllr Collins said, “Many people working for the various district and local councils of Somerset will be concerned to learn that their future is tied up with such a risky and polluting industry.

“When governments do act to prevent dangerous climate change, as we hope they will do in Paris in December, the business model for fossil fuel companies will be over and their assets will be stranded underground. That day is fast approaching.

“And, if oil and gas companies keep on drilling in their final days, it will make climate change far worse – it is the right decision both financially and ethically for Somerset County Council to divest as soon as possible.

“We in Somerset have felt the effects of climate change with the floods of 2013. The costs of further preventative works will soon be added onto our council tax bills as a separate precept. Meanwhile our pension fund invests in making the problem worse through investments in Shell and BP.

“As local residents we’ll be calling on the council pension fund committee to stand on the right side of history and divest from fossil fuels before it is too late. Instead, the council could reinvest this money into building new homes, clean renewable energy or public transport.”

Data acquired from shows Somerset County Council to have over £21million worth of stock in Royal Dutch Shell, and over £16million in BP Group. A total 8.25% of its £1.4billion pension fund is held in fossil fuel investments.