MSPs unite in calls for Edinburgh to house Green Investment Bank


By a Newsnet reporter

A cross party group of Holyrood MSPs has called for the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB) to be located in Edinburgh.

The group of MSPs including Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, Labour’s Rhoda Grant, Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur, Conservative Mary Scanlon and Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie have written to UK Business Secretary Vince Cable calling for Scotland’s capital to become home of the bank.

The letter says: “We believe Edinburgh then to be at the epicentre of UK green infrastructure investment and development in the priority sectors identified by BIS [Department for Business, Innovation and Skills].

“The city of Edinburgh is of course also a leading global financial services centre.”

Edinburgh Central SNP MSP Marco Biagi hailed the show of unity and said his constituency is recognised around the world as a centre of excellence in financial services.

Mr Biagi said:

“Edinburgh has a long-established global reputation for financial services excellence and I am delighted that all of Scotland’s parties have united behind the bid to locate GIB in the city.

“The quality and skill of the local workforce should be capitalised on – and what better way to do that than allowing them to help make the GIB a success.

“Only last month Edinburgh hosted the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference, where former US vice-president Al Gore strongly praised Scotland for its lead on renewable energy.

“When you combine the city’s financial expertise with its work in the low carbon sector you establish the perfect centre for green finance.”

There has been considerable interest in the location of the GIB, with around 20 locations expressing a desire to house the bank; a decision on the bank’s location is expected in February 2012 and the UK Government has confirmed investment in projects will start from April 2012.

Mr Biagi insisted that any decision on the bank’s location had to accept that the GIB needed to be close to the people and industries it is working with and added:

“Scotland has the energy industry, the financial sector and the green potential to make this the perfect location.  We are leading renewables and particularly offshore energy development.  The best way to understand what the industry needs to fulfil its potential is to be amongst that industry.

“These elements – particularly the proximity to companies and individuals actually working at the front line of decarbonising our economy cannot be accessed anywhere else.

“Scotland is leading the renewables revolution so establishing the centre for green finance in its capital city has enormous potential that cannot be ignored.”

The Green Investment Bank was announced in May this year by UK Business Secretary Vince Cable.  It is designed to accelerate private investment into low carbon ventures.

The GIB will have a capitalisation fund of £3 billion and will focus on the areas of offshore wind power generation; waste processing and recycling; energy from waste generation and non-domestic energy efficiency.

The SNP believes that Scotland’s enormous renewable energy potential and Edinburgh’s financial expertise makes the capital the obvious choice to locate the bank.

Only last month the Scottish Government agreed to contribute over £100 million from its fossil fuel levy fund in order to help the capitalisation of the bank.  The fund had lain in a London bank account after the previous Labour administration refused to hand it over.  

The current UK coalition agreed to release the £200 million fund on condition that half of it went to help capitalise the GIB.