TRAFFORD Council will begin the process of removing its investments from fossil fuel companies following a unanimous vote this week.

The authority agreed it will now start to pressure the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF), which collectively invests pensions from local authorities, schools and businesses, to move away from companies like BP, Shell and British Gas.

Protesters gathered outside the town hall before a full council meeting last night and demanded the authority stop supporting “dirty industries”.

They were gathering in support of a motion that Green Party members had submitted; calling for full divestment from fossil fuel industries by as early as 2024.

But Trafford’s Labour group amended the motion, to reword this deadline to “as soon as possible” and broaden the divestment plans to include a move away from carbon-intensive industries as well as from fossil fuel firms.

Coun Andrew Western, council leader, said: “There has been considerable divestment already in the GMPF and there is a need for viable calculations.

“We need to be divesting more quickly, but we have to be careful that we’re not putting people’s pensions at risk.

“There is a divestment strategy and some divestment has already taken place in a managed way.

“This isn’t just about our response to the climate emergency, we have to be very careful with this, it’s also about the protection of people’s pensions.”

Green Party members said they were “disappointed” by the amendment.

Counc Geraldine Coggins, Green group leader, said: “Pumping money into the big oil companies is increasingly risky for investors. We have no choice but to move away from depending on this industry, and as we do so these funds will lose their value.

“Our pension fund shouldn’t be supporting dirty fuels which accelerate the climate crisis. We’re disappointed that Labour has taken away our pressing timeframes and watered down the impact of this move.”

Counc Michael Welton, fellow Green Party Councillor who represents Altrincham, said: “Green Party councillors across the country are challenging the old parties on the climate emergency. The scientists have told us we have 10 years to get our house in order. We need urgent action, not just words.”