A final decision on the location of the £3bn national Green Investment Bank has been delayed as the Government wades through bids from more than 30 towns and cities across the UK.
Leeds, Sheffield and Hull are among the contenders to host the prestigious new institution, announced by the Chancellor last year to raise billions of pounds to fund major new green infrastructure projects.
In December the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) invited bidders from towns and cities across the UK to host the new bank, promising a decision before the end of February.
But a spokeswoman for BIS said yesterday the high number of bidders meant the decision was taking longer than anticipated.
“With 32 bids, interest in hosting the location of the Green Investment Bank exceeded our expectations,” she said.
“These all need to be carefully considered against the criteria we published in December. In order to allow enough time to make the right decision, we will be announcing the location shortly.”
Leeds is widely seen as one of the favourites to land the bank, due to its thriving financial services industry and the fact Yorkshire is host to a series of planned green energy projects such as proposed “clean coal” power stations at Hatfield, Drax and Killingholme.
However, the city faces fierce competition from Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and a string of other locations around the country.
Edinburgh in particular is seen as a serious contender, being a high-profile location with strong financial services and receiving support in its bid from Glasgow City Council as well as local political leaders. However, it is unclear how the unresolved question of Scottish independence could affect the city’s bid for an institution which will only be allowed to begin borrowing money in 2015 – a year after the planned Scottish referendum.
The bank would create only a small number of local jobs directly, but would allow the winning city to establish itself as a centre for green investment funding.