THE decision to site the Green Investment Bank in London and Edinburgh is a blow to the region, given that Leeds, Sheffield and Hull had all made bids to host this prestigious project.
However, if there are grave doubts now raised about the Government’s much-vaunted commitment to tackling the North-South divide, there are also, perhaps, lessons to be learned in Yorkshire as well.
In many ways, this region had been the ideal venue for the bank. As the nation’s second biggest financial centre outside London, Leeds offered talent and expertise in both commercial and environmental terms, while the Yorkshire and Humber region has a track record of achievement in a variety of green energy projects.
The region also has big plans for the future, with the Humber area looking to become a centre of offshore wind technology and Yorkshire being seen as the leading pioneer of carbon capture and storage in which industrial emissions would be siphoned off through a mammoth pipeline network and stored under the North Sea.
So it is galling not only that the Government has apparently overlooked these compelling advantages, but also that it has spurned a clear opportunity to demonstrate that its commitment to rebalancing the nation’s economy amounts to anything more than soothing words.
That said, however, it has to be admitted that Yorkshire did not help its own cause by mounting a confusing series of competing bids.
Of course, it is true that the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence gave Ministers a political reason for favouring the Edinburgh bid. Yet it is also the case that bids from three competing cities had a destabilising effect on the region’s case, one which was not suffered by Edinburgh, or indeed any of the other applications.
Had Leeds, Sheffield and Hull shelved their parochial rivalries and made common cause in the interests of Yorkshire as a whole, they would surely have presented an unanswerable case for siting the Green Investment Bank in this region. This episode should, then, serve as a reminder that, in all subsequent bids for investment, the region has to speak with one voice.