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Ethical funds set to rethink nuclear power

Nuclear power could be inc- luded in ethical funds as the debate on energy is reopened, says Aberdeen head of soc-ially responsible investment Andrew Preston.

Preston’s ethical world fund screens stocks against 15 criteria, including inv- olvement in animal test- ing, gambling, pornography, tobacco and negative lab- our issues.

Preston says that there have been objections to nuclear power production in the past on the grounds of health and safety management, especially when plants have been decommissi- oned, but the field is being debated again and the fund could change its screen- ing processes in the future.

In the energy sector, the fund looks closely at comp-any management and does not currently invest in Brazilian oil firm Petrobras bec-ause of what the fund manager describes as a poor record in deaths and serious injuries among its workforce and health and safety brea-ches since 2002.

But the fund does invest in Scottish Power because it believes that the company has strong environmental policies and is taking action on community and social involvement.

Preston says: “The issue with nuclear power is the health and safety process during shutdown but it is really a question of sound management. The debate is evolving at the moment and people are looking at nuc- lear again.”

“There is always a potential for changing our screening processes and if we feel that there is a need to change the policy, then we may write to shareholders.

“There are no plans yet but I do sense that there is more focus on this subject than there has been for quite some time.”

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For the record

Under normal circumstances, it is only a very plucky journalist – or a completely mad one – who takes public issue with something his editor has written about only a week earlier. Happily, Money Marketing is, as we all know, a bastion of tolerance and freedom of expression.

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