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Concern over fracking investment

Fund managers Baillie Gifford said it invests SIC money into two fracking companies.

Lerwick Town Hall. Photo: Shetland NewsLerwick Town Hall. Photo: Shetland News

CONCERN was raised over fund managers investing Shetland Islands Council (SIC) money into fracking companies when councillors met on Wednesday.

Fund managers Baillie Gifford, which looks after £195 million of council investments, told a meeting of the full council that they invest SIC money into two global fracking companies.

It came after questioning from Lerwick North member Stephen Leask, who said more should be done to invest in renewable energy companies.

Baillie Gifford – which directs 55 per cent of the council’s total investments – told councillors that the returns generated for the SIC had come back above the set benchmark, with companies like online dealer Amazon particularly performing well.

Fund manager Tim Gooding said Baillie Gifford was not keen on investing in oil and gas companies and added that its portfolio had a relative carbon footprint which was less than the benchmark.

This prompted Leask to ask if Baillie Gifford invested any money into fracking companies.

Fracking is a controversial technique to recover gas and oil from shale rock, but concerns have been regularly been expressed about its environmental impact.

Three tremors were recently recorded at the UK’s only fracking site in Lancashire in space of a couple of weeks.

Gooding confirmed it invests council money into two global fracking companies – Apache and EOG Resources.

“We want to invest in the best companies in their class,” he said.

“We don’t rule out companies because they frack.”

Speaking after the meeting, Leask said he had heard concerns over fracking investments from his constituents.

“I thought I would ask the question because it was brought up to me by the people within the area that I serve that perhaps fracking is an issue that we shouldn’t actually be investing in,” he said.

“I felt that I would ask the question, seeing that they were strong on environmental issues, if they were actually investing in fracking, with the SIC’s money, and they said that they did, they had two companies that they used.

“I felt that we should be going down the renewable route for investments, which are actually showing a strong investment policy.”