Stewart Dickson MLA said: “Many countries have now to face up to the consequences of unsustainable development, which has resulted in overexploitation of resources, increased pollution and climate change. If current trends continue, damage to our environment will accelerate. By pursuing the Green Economic Agenda we can help both our economy and our environment.
“I welcome this Assembly motion which will allow businesses here to access the UK Green Investment Bank, particularly as was established with the aims of ensuring engagement in activities solely dedicated to achieving one or more of the statutory ‘green purposes’.
“These purposes are very wide-ranging, and with an initial budget of £3billion, the bank certainly has the potential to advance our green economy. The market can bring about much innovation and change, but there is merit in intervention and assistance to help to drive that innovation and change forward.
“I do have a concern over the definition of’green investment’ and whether this could be used to invest in high-carbon infrastructure and technologies rather than fulfilling the purpose the Government has set out, namely, as a support to ‘low-carbon investment where the returns are too long term or too risky for the market’.
“For example, could we have a case in which projects receive funding for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or improving efficiency in the use of natural resources but still be relatively high-carbon?
“We wanted more consideration to be given in this regard, but failing that, we hope that those judging the applications will make the right decisions based on the Government’s stated aims.
“I believe that there are no quotas for the allocation of funding to different regions of the UK. We are told that decisions will be based solely on the quality of the applications received from businesses. It is important, therefore, that they receive all the advice and support possible from the Department in advance of the scheme and during the application process.
“I know that some of the operational details of the bank are still being worked out but it is our hope that the Department will provide all the information and support it can to local businesses when the plans become clearer.”