Sunderland is “obvious choice” for Green Investment Bank

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson.
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COUNCIL boss Paul Watson says Sunderland is the “obvious choice” to beat 31 other towns and cities to host the new Green Investment Bank.

As reported in the Echo, Sunderland City Council submitted its bid to ministers last month, citing Wearside’s green credentials as impressive assets when it comes to the judging process.

The bank itself – set up to invest in renewable energy and sustainable industries – will create about 80 jobs.

However, the knock-on effect of hosting the institution would massively boost Sunderland’s efforts to become a hub of low-carbon industry and hi-tech engineering.

Old rival Newcastle is among the 32 competing areas to enter bids, as is the Tees Valley.

Others range from London to Liverpool, and Bicester to Birmingham.

Sunderland leaders say just being in the running is enough to boost the city’s image.

But council leader Paul Watson remains confident Wearside had got what it takes to win.

He said: “We’re not surprised by the level of interest from other areas because this is such a great opportunity.

“But we believe Sunderland is the obvious choice for the location of the Green Investment Bank.

“We are a proven location for green investment. We have the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles in Nissan, excellent connectivity and transport links and are about to become the first city in Britain to offer wall-to-wall super fast broadband coverage.

“We are already driving the local low-carbon industry, through being designated a low-carbon economic area in 2009 and through the enterprise zone, so we believe we can not only meet, but go beyond the criteria set by government to host the bank.”

Coun Watson had already set out the city’s stall at the launch of the bid, describing Sunderland as the “low risk, low-carbon, high-impact bid.”

He said: “We have the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles in Nissan, the best broadband in the UK – which will maximise the potential for international investment communications – and our port which is developing expertise in sub-sea engineering, vital for the future of the off-shore wind industry.

“There are major employment opportunities in green industries, both in the North East and across the UK.

“It is clear that you cannot have a bidding process without Sunderland being central to it.”

Ministers and civil servants are considering all 32 bids before making a decision on which area should host the Green Investment Bank, which would be capitalised with an initial £3billion to invest in sustainable industries.

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