Green Bank to see Edinburgh sink teeth into ‘tiger economy’ role

Business Secretary Vince Cable. Picture: PA
Business Secretary Vince Cable. Picture: PA
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The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is set to put Edinburgh at the heart of a new “tiger economy” of green energy, experts predicted today.

The announcement by Business Secretary Vince Cable that Edinburgh had been chosen – from 32 cities across the UK – to become the headquarters of the GIB was widely welcomed by city chiefs, business leaders and politicians from across the political spectrum.

Finance experts were in no doubt about the significance of the decision for the Capital.

Angus Macpherson, head of investment banking at Esperito Santo Investment Bank, which is heavily involved in green investment, said Edinburgh now had all the ingredients to become a pre-eminent global centre in green energy.

He said: “If you look at how Hyderabad, Bangalore and Silicon Valley became world centres in information technology, there was an industry know-how there with finance and also intellectual know-how in research all focused in a relatively small place.

“They were also away from conventional centres, which seemed to encourage unconventional thinking.

“If you get all three working together, as is already happening in Edinburgh, you have the basis for developing a significant centre of expertise.”

Although the HQ will be in Edinburgh, the GIB will also have a base in London, which means its 50-70 full-time equivalent jobs will be split between the two cities.

A Whitehall source was today quoted claiming the independence referendum had been “very much part of the decision”, a way of emphasising the strength of the UK working together.

But Mr Cable indicated more work could be transferred north. His statement said: “It is clear that the GIB’s major transaction team must be located, at least initially, in London, though capacity may be developed over time in Edinburgh.”

City council economic development convener Tom Buchanan said: “They will probably find once they are here that the costs of operating out of Edinburgh are much cheaper and over time we will get a fair chunk of this.”

Edinburgh West Lib Dem MSP Mike Crockart said the Capital was the right choice as GIB HQ because of its strength and depth in both financial services and green technology. “It is this co-location that will make the bank a success and make Edinburgh a European centre of excellence for green investment,” he said.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s Graham Birse said securing the GIB was a real triumph for Edinburgh. He said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to locate Edinburgh at the epicentre of Europe’s green energy revolution.”

Edinburgh South Labour MP and shadow business minister Ian Murray called the news “fantastic” and a “massive boost for the city”.+