Green Investment Bank comes to Edinburgh

<em>Picture: Images_of_Money</em>
Picture: Images_of_Money

The UK’s first Green Investment Bank will be shared between Edinburgh and London. The main headquarters will be in Edinburgh after the city beat off competition from another 31 bids. The news was confirmed by Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who added however that the transaction team would be located in London.

He said that harnessing the strengths of the two financial centres would “support the Green Investment Bank’s ambition to become a world leader. Edinburgh has a thriving green sector and respected expertise in areas such as asset management. London, as the world’s leading financial centre, will ensure that the GIB’s transaction team can hit the ground running. This decision will allow the GIB to operate effectively and achieve its mission of mobilising the additional investment needed to accelerate the UK’s transition to a green economy.”

The news has been welcomed by the Scottish business community. The bank’s objective is to accelerate private sector investment in ‘green’ projects. It’s expected to employ 50-70 full-time staff across the two sites, with the number of staff based in Edinburgh expected to rise from 2015.

The Chief Executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise, Owen Kelly, said it was “tremendous news” for Edinburgh. “The Edinburgh Green Investment Bank Group represented a broad range of interests from public and private sectors and the bid’s success is testament to the strength of this collaborative approach,” he explained.

“The establishment of the Green Investment Bank is a real step forward in the commercialisation of low carbon technologies in the UK and I am delighted that it will be based in Edinburgh.”

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, agreed that it was “fantastic news for Edinburgh and for Scotland. The decision to headquarter the Green Investment Bank in Scotland is testament to the city’s continuing reputation for excellence in the fields of finance and energy and is recognition of the central role that Scotland has to play in the development of renewable energy technologies.”

The chairman of Scottish Enterprise, Crawford Gillies, also described it as “fantastic news for Edinburgh and for Scotland. The Green Investment Bank will be an enduring institution supporting the growth of the UK’s renewable energy and low carbon sectors.

“Being headquartered in Edinburgh will enable the bank to draw on the city’s world class financial services expertise as well as Scotland’s renowned capabilities in the development of renewable and low carbon technologies. Not only will this help ensure to ensure the long term success of the Green Investment Bank but it will also further enhance Scotland’s renewable ambitions, making it the world’s leading location for renewable energy.”

In the view of Dr Lesley Sawers, SCDI Chief Executive, “The arrival of the Green Investment Bank is great news for Edinburgh and Scotland’s renewables industry, and the culmination of a long campaign actively supported by SCDI.

“Access to sufficient and unprecedented levels of capital is the most important factor in the installation and development of renewable technologies and the Green Investment Bank must play a key role as soon as possible. The UK Government should consider whether the new Bank’s borrowing powers will be needed sooner than currently projected.

“Maximising the value of Scotland’s renewable assets is a key priority in re-building our economy. The Green Investment Bank will therefore accelerate Scotland’s economic recovery, create jobs and help to deliver a sustainable energy future.”

Jenny Dawe, Edinburgh City Council’s leader, said that “we made a compelling case based on Edinburgh’s financial strength and rapidly developing clean energy hub. As the Business Secretary said, Edinburgh’s strengths will enable the bank to become a world leader in its field, supporting investment in a greener economy.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Edinburgh business community, the Scottish Government, other Scottish councils and a range of organisations that have given their backing to the city’s bid. I’m hugely grateful for all the hard work that has gone in to securing the bank for Scotland.”

Friends of the Earth’s economics campaigner, David Powell, said: “Choosing the HQ for the Green Investment Bank has been like arguing about where to put the cherry on a half-baked cake. This is great news for Edinburgh, but George Osborne’s inadequate support means it will start life as a lame duck.

“A flourishing Green Investment Bank is vital to unlock the huge potential of clean British energy and create thousands of new jobs. The Chancellor’s Budget must free the bank from his vice-like grip by allowing it to borrow and lend from the markets from day one.”

However, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore welcomed the news, saying “I am delighted that the Green Investment Bank will be headquartered in Edinburgh. Scotland has enormous green energy potential and its capital is the UK’s second biggest financial centre.”

The bank is being set up with £3bn of public money to help firms finance early-stage renewable energy schemes. The Government explained that the first priorities would be offshore wind power generation, commercial and industrial waste processing and recycling, energy from waste generation and non-domestic energy efficiency.