The Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce recently attended the Leeds City Region bid to host the Government's new Green Investment Bank, a £3 billion fund for the acceleration of private sector investment in the UK's transition to a low carbon economy.
On Thursday evening at an event in Leeds City Centre the Leeds City Region (LCR) launched its bid to host the Green Investment Bank (GIB), a £3 billion funding vehicle established by the government to act as a catalysing force in the ‘greening’ of the British economy. At the event Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chair Neil McLean and Arup Associate Director Alice Owen outlined the business case for locating the GIB in the region. The bid was formally backed by Greg Mulholland, Leeds North West MP, and was widely attended by local business, politicians and representatives from the LCR.
The Green Investment Bank will attempt to “accelerate private sector investment in the United Kingdom’s transition to a green economy” (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills GIB Progress Report); generating financial returns and addressing market failures with an initial focus on green infrastructure assets. As the investment bank develops the Government’s hope is for further private sector funding and involvement in order to create a more financially sustainable vehicle which will continue to invest in strategic green projects. Priorities for the investment bank will be offshore wind, non-domestic energy efficiency and waste projects. The bank is in its infancy and, as the speakers at the bid noted, there is no established process for bids. However, a tentative framework drawn up by government has outlined April 2012 as the beginning of an ‘incubation’ period for the bank, which will be granted full borrowing powers in April 2015.
The business case for the Leeds City Region is strong; a point acknowledged by Business Secretary Mark Prisk in a speech at a separate Leeds City Region event on Friday. The Leeds City Region has the financial and environmental talent base and infrastructure to support the GIB’s investment activities. Existing organisations such as CO2Sense Yorkshire, White Rose Universities Centre for Low Carbon Futures and the Green Business Network illustrate the region’s commitment to environmental concerns. Drax Power Station in Selby is investing heavily in biomass co-firing and the UK’s largest wood pellet biomass production facility is located in Pollington. At a local level Green Business Grants in the region are supporting small businesses to reduce their environmental impact, Kirklees Council are awarding prize money to businesses working to ‘green’ their activities while Mid Yorkshire Chamber member Disposables UK was recently awarded an EU Eco Label.
A strong regional focus on creating a green economy could generate greater opportunities for local business. Strategically directed investments could create trickle-down growth opportunities for suppliers and other supporting industries, while the bank will also focus on helping businesses to develop strategies for energy efficiency, with particular emphasis on the financial benefits of these strategies.
On Tuesday 13th September Leeds City Region representatives will launch the bid in Westminster. The LCR is asking those who back the Green Investment Bank’s location in the region to register their support at this website.
Samuel Lewis, Policy Correspondent at Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce