Energy ambitions renewed as Scotland wins fuel fund

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LEITH’S future role at the centre of renewable energy development and Edinburgh’s chances of hosting the Green Investment Bank have been given a major boost by a compromise deal ending a cash wrangle between Westminster and Holyrood.

Chancellor George Osborne announced the Scottish Government will be able to spend half of the £200 million currently held in the fossil fuel levy fund, with the other half going to the new bank.

Scottish ministers said they would use the £103m funding to invest in Scotland’s port infrastructure to drive forward the renewables industry and manufacturing jobs.

They said the allocation of Scottish money to help set up the new bank strengthened the case for basing it in Edinburgh.

Up until now, the fossil fuel levy cash was effectively locked away because any amount ministers drew from the fund would automatically be deducted from Scotland’s block grant from Westminster.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “Scotland has the natural renewables resources to become the green energy powerhouse of Europe using all forms of renewables, including hydro, wave, tidal, onshore and offshore wind.

“This government is doing all it can to strengthen Scotland’s reputation for the development and creation of renewable energy.

“The investment we are making will bring the clear benefits of developing our competitive advantage, supporting new technologies, and creating green jobs to help stimulate a strong economic recovery.”

Earlier this week, a memorandum of understanding was signed by Forth Ports Ltd, Scottish Enterprise and Edinburgh City Council to develop an ambitious new masterplan for Leith, including attracting investment from the renewables industry.

Today, Graham Birse, deputy chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the release of the cash.

He said: “This is a real breakthrough. We had been frustrated for some time at the lack of progress in saying how the fossil fuel levy was going to be spent.

“We were worried that political arguments might get in the way of a sensible outcome, but that appears not to be the case.

“What it enables us to do is to continue the campaign to win the Green Investment Bank for Edinburgh, to present what is already a compelling case for the port of Leith to become the hub of Scotland’s and Europe’s renewable energy future.”