Jenny Dawe: Capital has hope for a brighter future

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The decision to site the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh was greeted with much fanfare. City leader Jenny Dawe explains what it will actually mean

It is fantastic news for Edinburgh that we have beaten off competition from more than 30 other cities to be the headquarters of a new bank that will invest in renewable energy. The long-awaited decision has been greeted enthusiastically by a wide range of Edinburgh, Scottish and international political, business and environmental leaders.

The Green Investment Bank, which will be set up by the UK Government, will play a major role in creating a greener economy. The fact that Edinburgh was selected from very strong competition is a real tribute to what the Capital has to offer and to the strong teamwork across political parties and a wide-range of public and private partners in making a compelling case.

The success of our bid rested on many factors. We have an excellent workforce, with real expertise in financial services. There is high-quality and competitively-priced office space. We can offer a quality of life unmatched in the rest of the country. We also have the transport and communications links to ease engagement with others.

Of equal importance is that Edinburgh has great strengths and potential in research and manufacturing in the emerging and innovative green industries and technologies. Our innovation is world renowned.

But what does this HQ location decision actually mean for Edinburgh?

It provides an immediate gain to our attraction as both a place in which to invest and somewhere that takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously.

The financial and renewable sectors are highly competitive in Europe and across the world. We are the only city in the UK that can offer this combination in strength and depth.

But we want Edinburgh to retain its place among international cities as a natural home for business and investment. I’m delighted that this was recognised last week with ten coveted fDi (Foreign Direct Investment) awards.

The most exciting of these was to be crowned as Best European Large City for Foreign Direct Investment and Best Large City for Foreign Direct Investment Strategy. These awards are a tribute to our “Team Edinburgh” approach, which was also such an important factor in building our Green Investment Bank HQ case.

Although we have been recognised as leaders in the field, we are always aware that there is intense competition from across the world. The Green Investment Bank gives a huge boost to the city, city region and the whole of Scotland. We are ideally placed to take full advantage of developments in the green economy as is already seen in the work of some innovative Edinburgh-based companies such as Pelamis and Aquamarine Power.

Having the bank based in Edinburgh will help to reinforce and extend the benefits of the growing green economy. The bank is expected to attract billions of pounds for renewables projects that involve new green technologies. This clearly supports our council plans for investment and jobs and for a cleaner, greener, low carbon society. There is much work to be done on the detail of the bank. The one sure thing is locating the HQ in Edinburgh is brilliant news for the Capital.

People from the financial and environmental worlds will be watching with interest as the bank and its benefits take shape.


Some of the key factors which secured the GIB for Edinburgh

• Almost 16,000 people are employed within banking in the city.

• 80 per cent of the world’s largest banking companies have a presence in Edinburgh.

• 25 per cent of all UK life and pensions employment is in Scotland.

• Edinburgh houses the headquarters of four major insurance companies.

• All of the city’s key legal firms in Scotland have banking, project finance and renewables teams.

• The top five accountancy firms in the UK have substantial offices in Edinburgh with established centres of excellence in green infrastructure.

• Edinburgh is ranked the fourth largest financial centre in Europe in equity assets.

• Major global offshore wind developers have a strong presence in and around Edinburgh.

• Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe has announced plans to invest up to £100m in a new Centre for Advanced Technology in Edinburgh for research and development into offshore wind turbine technology.

• Gamesa is currently considering Leith harbour as a potential manufacturing base for its offshore wind turbines.

• Global wind turbine manufacturer Enercon is managing its UK sales and project management operations from Edinburgh.

• Edinburgh was ranked the seventh top city in the world for ease of doing business in the Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index produced by MasterCard in 2008.

• Edinburgh was ranked the UK’s most competitive large city in the 2010 UK Competitiveness Index compiled by the Centre for International Competitiveness.

• Edinburgh was ranked top city in the UK and the eighth top city in Europe in terms of quality of life in the 2010 European Cities Monitor produced by Cushman and Wakefeld.