February 2, 2016 / 3:57 PM / 2 years ago

UK green bank shields environmental aims with new structure

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Green Investment Bank said it will create a “special share” structure whereby an independent company will have to consent to any changes to its environmental aims.

Tuesday’s move is designed to head off criticism that the bank’s commitment to invest in safeguarding the environment may be diluted by its privatisation.

The UK government created the bank at the end of 2012 as a commercial venture to back Britain’s green energy projects and encourage private sector investment.

The special share will be held by a separate company which is independent of the government and the bank. Unless the special shareholder gives consent, the bank will not be able to make changes to its green objectives.

Each of the bank’s investments must meet one of its aims, which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the efficiency of natural resource use, protecting the environment and biodiversity, and promoting environmental sustainability.

Last year, the government announced plans to sell the majority of its shares in the bank to bring in private capital.

However, the move was criticised by some British lawmakers and environmental campaign groups who said the privatisation must not proceed unless the bank’s green mission was protected.

Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Jan Harvey

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