BQ Newsletter

Green light

Friday 9 March 2012 7:00

As 32 bids become one the Government finally puts a pin in the map and a new epicentre for environmental investment is born.

It was a battle which raged for months between 32 forces, each vying for the best part of a £3bn spending pot and its by-products of jobs, prosperity and kudos.

But ultimately Edinburgh – with a small function in London – was deemed the best location for the Government’s ambitious Green Investment Bank (GIB).

This left the 31 failed bids asking questions over the fairness of the decision, where their shortcomings were and whether or not the punt was worth the risk of failure.

The bank is likely to create between 50 and 70 full-time staff across the two sites and, according to Scottish Secretary Michael Moore it was a huge vote of confidence in Edinburgh's financial sector and Scotland's role in the "green economy".

"We are absolutely determined that Edinburgh will be central to the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB), that's why the headquarters will be here," he told the BBC.

In Wales, a despondent Cheryl Gillian, Secretary of State for Wales, told reporters of her disappointment but vowed that the nation would continue to breathe fire into the green economy.

“Wales remains on track to becoming a key player in the UK’s transition to a green economy and the UK and Welsh Governments continue to ensure that Wales remains a strong contender in the renewables sector,” she said.

The decision, said Business Secretary Vince Cable, was motivated by Edinburgh’s expertise in asset management and its thriving green sector. With ample support from London, the joint city arrangement would enable the project to “hit the ground running,” he said.

The move would also unite the two capitals in the run up to a referendum on Scottish independence, with Alex Salmond, head of the Scottish National Party, a keen champion of the power that renewable energy has to drive an independent Scotland.

One of the failed bids emerged from a well thought out campaign in Yorkshire, with a plan to transform Leeds into a hub for green technology and energy. Just as the Welsh resolutely declared their plan to continue their green agenda despite the setback, so too did stakeholders in the Yorkshire economy.

Mark Goldstone, head of policy and business representation at Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, which was a partner in the bid, alongside CO2Sense, and Financial Leeds, said: “The decision to locate the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh and London is obviously very disappointing as the Leeds City Region put forward a very strong business case.

“Missing out on the bank, however, does not put an end to the city region’s ambitions to become a world leader in the green industries. As our bid demonstrated, the city region is awash with the expertise, skills and innovative research facilities to drive the growth of the low carbon sector both here in Yorkshire and across the world.”

As was hopefully the case with other regions, Yorkshire has also benefitted logistically from the bidding process. "Putting the bid together has created networks that didn’t previously exist and as a city region we will be looking to collaborate with the host cities to deliver projects,” added Goldstone.

Across the country, from Cornwall and Norwich to Sunderland and Hull, marketing, policy and political figures will now take stock of the positives that have come out of two years on the green charm offensive.

In the meantime Scotland now awaits the riches that come with being the epicentre of the Government’s green finance agenda.

The next milestone will come in May this year as legislation is introduced into Parliament to ensure better accountability for regulators – details for which can be read here in the Government’s business plan for the GIB.

Click here to read details of the original – and ultimately successful -bid from Edinburgh.