THE Tories sold off the publicly owned Green Investment Bank (GIB) to a tax-dodging Australian firm yesterday in a deal worth £2.3 billion.
The deal was struck with the notorious Macquarie Bank, which earned the nickname the “Vampire Kangaroo” due to its exploitation of tax loopholes.
Campaigners labelled the sell-off a “disaster” and “ideological vandalism,” warning that it would hit jobs and set back progress towards climate targets.
The GIB was was set up with £3.8 billion of government money in 2012 and has supported nearly 100 green infrastructure projects, including investment in offshore windfarms and other low-carbon efforts.
In 2015-16, the GIB reported a net profit of £8m, according to the Australian Business Review news website.
The website also reported that investments such as this now bring in 70 per cent of Macquarie’s profit. At the end of last year, the group had £6.7 billion in equity in this area alone.
Ministers claimed that the GIB had been sold because they wanted it to be “free from the constraints of public-sector ownership.”
But Greenpeace UK policy director Doug Parr called the privatisation a “disaster,” saying: “The hole left by the Green Investment Bank will slow our transition to a clean energy system, set us back on reaching our climate targets and mean more of the jobs from new sectors will go elsewhere.”
Campaign group Global Justice Now’s Jonathan Stevenson said: “The Green Investment Bank is one of the few democratic levers the public has over our broken energy system.
“Selling it off is an act of pure ideological vandalism by this government, once again putting corporate interests before people and planet.
“We need to take control of energy from big business and finance, not give more away.”
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas added: “Once GIB is sold, [Macquarie] can do what they want.
Suggesting that the firm might go into fracking, she wondered: “How much of £3bn will be invested in the UK?”
In January, when Macquarie was announced as the government’s preferred bidder, climate think tank E3G warned that Macquarie is known for buying up British businesses and “loading the companies with large debts, while engaging in largescale tax avoidance.”
Former energy secretary Sir Ed Davey said the sale was “environmentally irresponsible and, on the eve of the election, is politically dubious.”
Macquarie Group claimed to be committed to the green energy sector and said it would retain the GIB staff in Edinburgh and London.