Decision on GB Energy location will follow election

Anas Sarwar addressing the Prosper Forum in Edinburgh (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

A decision on where to locate Labour’s state-owned Great British Energy company will be made after the election on 4 July, Anas Sarwar, the Scottish party leader has confirmed.

However, despite indications from Mr Sarwar as recently as this week that it would be a generator, he told Daily Business that GBE will invest in clean energy alongside private generation companies, including investments into higher risk projects.

Commenting after addressing a gathering of business, public sector and voluntary groups in Edinburgh, Mr Sarwar said Aberdeen “has a strong case” for the headquarters of GBE.

He told 160 delegates attending the Prosper Forum at the John McIntyre Centre that GBE would play a part in helping to attract investment into the generation sector.

Mr Sarwar was speaking ahead of a visit to Scotland by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who will say more about GB Energy’s plans and will argue that it will help create, not destroy, jobs.

Labour plans to fund the company through a windfall tax on big oil and gas firms, with an initial £8.3bn capitalisation over a parliament.

Mr Sarwar said it will cut bills and provide the “stability and confidence” required to build a new energy sector.

Echoing the words of Scotland’s Economy Secretary Kate Forbes who spoke before him, he said there was no intention to “turn off the taps” for the oil and gas sector, but he made no mention of the windfall tax or Labour’s plan not to award new exploration licences.

In a wide-ranging speech shorn of the usual references to “change”, he spoke of policies that touched on both devolved and UK areas of responsibility.

He spoke of creating a new national planning agency to help match the decision making speed of places like Manchester where applications are resolved within 16 weeks, against 78 weeks in Glasgow.

He said there would be action on the apprenticeship levy to improve skills, a de-cluttering of the enterprise agency network – which suggested some cutbacks – and reform of the ‘no longer fit for purpose’ business rates system.

On taxation, he accused the Scottish Government of “using income tax to make up for the shortfall in public finances” and as a substitute for growth.

He said the cross-border divergence in income tax was “driving people away from Scotland”.

Comment: Generating a muddle over energy

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