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Green Infrastructure Bank faces nuclear question

The Green Infrastructure Bank will seek to lend to energy projects when it is first set up, but it remains undecided whether nuclear projects will fall under the bank’s remit, business secretary Vince Cable said yesterday.

When the bank is first established it will seek to build up its credibility with strong investments, he said at a select committee meeting yesterday.

“What’s important is that it gets off the ground, makes good investments, builds credibility.” Wind projects will have a place in that process, he said.

“What’s important is that it gets off the ground, makes good investments, builds credibility.”

business secretary Vince Cable

But Cable said questions remained over the place of nuclear projects. “It doesn’t fit the profile we envisaged in the early stage,” he said.

He acknowledged that opinions differ as to whether nuclear is considered “green”, and said the coalition government has committed to not subsidising nuclear power above other alternatives, which could limit how the bank works with nuclear projects.

“There is a difficulty in the rather tough view that the government’s made on subsidy,” he said. “We are not trying to make [the Green Infrastructure Bank] less green – that would be self-defeating.

But he added: “I’m trying to be as flexible as possible and not rule out certain projects.”

“Deep design” stage

Cable said the bank is currently still at the “design stage” and will now move into “deep design of products”. A statement about the bank will be made in the Budget in March, and a full business and operating model will be ready in May, he said.

By the end of 2011 start-up staff will start to be recruited, and the first group of investments will begin in 2012.

Cable denied that there was reticence to provide information about the bank, saying: “I don’t think there is a blockage of information.” He said BIS and the Treasury are working with the Department for Transport, Department for Energy and Climate Change and Department for Communities and Local Government. “We are working in a genuinely cross-departmental way.”

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