HOUNSLOW Council risked the wrath of environmentalists this week by voting with BP's management on the controversial 'tar sands' oil extraction.
The council's pension fund panel voted with bosses at the oil giant against a resolution calling for a full report on the method, which green campaigners have criticised as short term and highly destructive.
Hounslow is one of many boroughs across the country to own shares in BP as part of its pension pot. It followed the recommendation of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, which represents 52 council pension schemes with combined assets worth £90 billion.
Investors put forward a resolution ahead of Wednesday's (April 14) AGM calling for more information about the tar sands development in Canada.
BP has already produced a report outlining the risks, both financial and environmental, associated with the method, but some investors claim it is lacking in detail.
Greenpeace is a fierce critic of tar sands projects, also carried out by other major oil companies, claiming they involve 'huge environmental costs, damaging land, air, water, forests and the climate'.
In a recent statement, the charity's Canadian branch said: "Greenpeace is calling on oil companies and the government to stop the tar sands, for the sake of people and the planet."
Tar sands are deposits of sand and clay saturated with bitumen. They cover a huge swathe of forest in Alberta larger than England.
Extracting the oil is more expensive and produces significantly more CO2 than traditional methods. There are also concerns about the impact on the forest and surrounding communities, whose hunting and fishing habitats have been damaged.
Commenting on its vote this week, a spokeswoman for Hounslow Council said: "The Hounslow Pension Fund Panel took into consideration the advice of our fund managers, particularly the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, and voted with management against the shareholders' resolution. This was a majority vote by the panel."