Environmentalists have “hijacked” a formal consultation into Scotland’s new £2 billion national investment bank to call for a boycott of firms involved with the flagship oil and gas industry.
A total of 94 per cent of the 1,443 responses took the form of an “identical” standard format submission provided by the pressure group Friends of the Earth calling for the bank’s activities to “rule out lending to fossil fuel projects”.
That would mean firms connected with the North Sea industry or Grangemouth owner Ineos – which has previously received millions of pounds in public funding – would not be eligible for public cash
Instead the cash should instead go to firms which help boost “offshore wind, public transport, solar and renewable heat” in the shift towards a green economy. The bank is expected to be up and running next year and is aimed at providing investment in Scottish firms seeking to expand.
The standard format submission from Friends of the Earth, which made up 1,360 submissions, backs the new bank which will be based in Edinburgh.
But it adds: “The vision of the Scottish national Investment bank should be to provide finance and to act to catalyse public and private investment for the move to a low carbon and inclusive economy.”
The bank will have start up funding of £500 million to provide for Scots firms looking to expand, as well as helping start-ups.
This will increase to £2 billion over the next decade.
Tesco bank chief Benny Higgins published a proposed implementation plan last year, which estimates annual running costs of £20m to £30m. This would allow for 100-150 staff across “a full range of financing activities”.
The consultation published yesterday states that a “significant number” of respondents say that carbon reduction should be a key mission of the bank.
Fewer than ten of the responses said investments should made to either Scottish companies, firms with a substantial presence in Scotland or where a positive impact will be made in Scotland.
Finance secretary Derek Mackay said the responses have been used to help draft the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill, which will introduced at Holyrood later this month, as well as the Bank’s Articles of Association.
“We also received overwhelming support for a possible early mission around helping to move Scotland towards a low carbon economy,” he said.