The Green Investment Bank (GIB) has been open for business in the Capital for a year. In that time the bank has committed £635 million to green projects.
It is still early days but the GIB has made an excellent start in laying the foundations to secure its place as an enduring institution and a key driver in our green revolution.
The headline figure is that for every £1 invested the GIB is leveraging another £3 of private investment. This is excellent news for the emerging renewables and waste projects which the bank supports, but does the city’s GIB have any impact on projects closer to home? Is Edinburgh’s GIB actually delivering for the Capital’s residents?
The simple answer is yes. Whilst the innovative bank is busy grabbing headlines for funding biomass boilers at distilleries, NHS energy centres and offshore wind projects, it is also providing financial assistance to schemes which have a direct impact on our lives.
The Green Deal, which is helping homeowners and businesses to improve the energy efficiency of their houses and workplaces, is one of GIB’s priority sectors. The bank’s team is looking to develop a long-term financing solution, meaning that the Green Deal Finance Company will be able to access finance whilst keeping the cost to consumers as low as possible. For homeowners across the UK this is good news, with over 44,479 Green Deal assessments already carried out.
Even closer to home, for many of my constituents in the Saughton Mains area of the city is another scheme which the bank could help to extend across the city. Over the last six months a pilot programme has taken place in Saughton Mains with new low energy light bulbs. The council is dragging its heels on the issue, saying that it will speak to residents over the summer to see whether they liked the new bulbs and that a report “will follow after that”.
I surveyed residents of the area recently and of those who responded 85 per cent said that they felt safer with the new lights; 94 per cent reported better visibility at night and 95 per cent agreed that the light was better than with the old yellow bulbs. In addition, 93 per cent of residents said that they believed the scheme should be extended across the city which shows the success of the pilot.
The energy efficiency team at our Green Investment Bank has designed a specific finance product aimed at local authorities to allow them to invest in this kind of low-energy infrastructure. The financial package could help Edinburgh City Council to find the best products on the market, allowing the roll out of low energy lighting whilst minimising procurement risks and cost. The council is meeting the bank’s team early next month to discuss the project further and I am hopeful that the council takes the opportunity to save money and energy.
Edinburgh’s Green Investment Bank is the first of its kind in the UK – it is innovative and international – but whilst playing on the world stage the bank has not forgotten its roots in the Capital. Edinburgh seized the initiative in offering a home to the GIB it now has the opportunity to lead the way in being the first council to launch a project in conjunction with the GIB. It’s this type of leadership which is needed and I hope that the council seizes it.
• Mike Crockart is the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West