Edinburgh makes Green Bank push

From Democracy Live: Energy Minister Fergus Ewing leads a debat on the Green Investment Bank

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Supporters are making a last-minute push for Edinburgh to be chosen as the base for the proposed new UK Green Investment Bank.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has met members of Edinburgh's Green Investment Bank Group to discuss the bid.

He also led a debate in Holyrood in support of Edinburgh's campaign.

A total of 32 towns and cities across the UK have put themselves forward as potential hosts for the headquarters of the proposed new institution.

The bank is being set up with £3bn of public money to help firms finance early-stage renewable energy schemes.

The UK government has described it as "the world's first investment bank solely dedicated to greening the economy".

A decision on where it will be based is expected by the end of this month.

Edinburgh has been backed by some big Scottish investment funds, including Standard Life Investments, Martin Currie and Aberdeen Asset Management.

'Compelling case'

Speaking on behalf of the Edinburgh Green Investment Bank Group, Scottish Financial Enterprise chief executive Owen Kelly said the group had put forward "a very compelling case" to bring the bank to Edinburgh.

He added: "Today's debate is a further opportunity to raise awareness of Edinburgh's competitive offering."

Mr Ewing argued that having the new bank in Edinburgh would give the UK the best chance of becoming a centre of excellence in this area.

He said: "Edinburgh is the only location in the UK which brings together both finance and the clean energy industry in a single location.

"It has an unrivalled concentration of industry skills and experience.

"Locating the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh will ensure the best possible chance for the UK to develop as the European centre of excellence in this sector."

Edinburgh submitted its case for becoming the Green Investment Bank's base to the government's Department for Business, Industry and Skills last month.

Both Edinburgh City Council and Glasgow City Council have already backed the capital's bid, as has the Energy Technology Partnership, a body which involves universities from all over Scotland.

During a debate at Holyrood, Labour's finance spokesman Ken Macintosh asked Mr Ewing about the possible impact of the SNP's bid for independence.

He said: "I want to pose a question to the Scottish government minister, and it is one I think he will need to answer if we are to be successful in winning this bid, and that is: why should a UK government want to locate a UK bank in a separate Scotland?"

He said the possibility of independence was a "potential barrier" to winning the bid.

Mr Macintosh added: "I do have huge doubts about how the Scottish government's plans for separation sit alongside the renewables energy policy.

"The whole renewables industry is based on a UK market."

"This is the "paradox at the heart" of the SNP's policy on renewables and support for independence."

In November, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said the referendum was not a factor in Edinburgh's bid to host the bank, saying the decision will be made "on the assumption that we are strongly assured that we are going to continue within the UK".

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