Basingstoke council have said they have "no control" over how their pension scheme is invested after it was revealed that millions of pounds of the fund was invested into fossil fuels.

Hampshire Pension Fund has invested a total of £136m into fossil fuels, as of April 2020.

Of this, £45.5m has been invested into coal, and £90.5m into oil and gas.

The fund is an investment vehicle for the county council, Portsmouth and Southampton unitary authorities, and 11 borough or district councils across Hampshire - including Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

Environmental campaigners have reacted with dismay to the news, which coincided with the COP26 climate summit.

Reacting to the news, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's leader Cllr Ken Rhatigan said that BDBC has no control over how the fund is invested.

He said: "The Hampshire Pension Fund Panel and Board is responsible for decisions relating to the Hampshire Local Government Pension Fund for all district and borough councils in Hampshire and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has no control over how that fund is invested.

“However, the council will continue to work with Hampshire County Council as a key partner, to encourage them to ensure their policies align with the ambitious aspirations set out in the Climate Emergency declarations of both councils.

“Since declaring a Climate Emergency in 2019, the borough council has promoted the use of clean fuel and has taken a number of steps to achieve this including changing its energy supplier to a greener tariff, introducing electric vehicles to its fleet of vehicles and installing Hampshire’s first electric vehicle charging hub.

“The council also promotes green energy options to its residents by supporting the delivery of grants to low income families to help them makes their homes more energy efficient and offers a range of solutions for clean energy via its Climate Change Toolkit which was launched last week.”

BDBC has set itself a goal to be carbon neutral by 2025, and the borough by 2030.

Co-founder of the Final Straw Foundation, Bianca Carr, said it was ‘nonsensical’ to be investing in fossil fuels after declaring a climate emergency.

She said: ‘Local authorities should be setting an example for others to follow, so I find it very strange for them to be investing in fossil fuels.

‘Why they aren’t investing in clean energy – especially when they have declared a climate emergency – is beyond me. It seems counter-intuitive, nonsensical even.

‘In any circumstance, ethically it’s the wrong thing to do, but even more so when COP26 starts.

‘I’m intrigued to hear the justification behind doing it.’