Somerset County Council Pension Fund has invested more than £100 million in fossil fuel companies, a new investigation has found.

Research from environmental campaign groups has revealed billions are being invested in the oil and gas industries by local government pension funds across the UK.

These are normally administered by a local authority, but other public bodies can also sign up to them.

The investigation, by Friends of the Earth and Platform London, shows Somerset County Council Pension Fund had around £113 million invested in fossil fuel companies in the 2021-22 financial year.

The true figure may be higher, as the researchers were only able to screen 89% of investments by the pension scheme.

In total, the pension fund is worth £2.8 billion.

Jamie Peters, climate coordinator at Friends of the Earth, said: "From insulating heat-leaking homes to facilitating mass public transport, councils are key to effective climate action, but this is undermined if local authority pension funds continue to fund fossil fuels.

"It’s time to ditch financially risky holdings in gas, coal and oil, and invest in accelerating the transformation to a carbon-free future."

The investigation covered 75% of assets managed by the Local Government Pension Scheme in the 2021-22 financial year.

Across the UK, it found at least £12.2 billion invested in fossil fuels – £10.4 billion in England, £1.4 billion in Scotland, £227 million in Wales and £28 million in Northern Ireland.

Rob Noyes, divestment campaigner and researcher at Platform London, said: "Investments in dirty fossil fuels turn public sector savings into fossil fuel playthings, pumping billions of pounds through the pensions pipeline into climate-wrecking fossil fuels."

Jo Donnelly, board secretary to the Local Government Pension Scheme Advisory Board, said: "Investment decisions relating to LGPS funds are made at a local level by a pensions committee made up of elected councillors, they consider their fiduciary duty to members and taxpayers when making decisions, along with other relevant considerations.

"All investment decisions are a matter for individual funds to reflect on, and balancing considerations around risk to investment portfolios caused by climate-related factors, as well as the other elements of ESG, are part of being responsible investors and asset owners. Many funds have set net-zero targets or goals and this is something that funds should review at regular intervals, allowing them to prepare for and navigate the transition in as smooth a fashion as possible."

"Naturally funds will have different approaches to holding fossil fuel-related investments, and they may wish to consider looking to their pools to assist them to assess and achieve their net-zero targets," she added.