LibDem MSP calls for answers after secret firm behind ‘high risk’ Scottish renewable energy project given £500,000 of public money by Scot-Govt

Renewable energy firm Silva Renewables were handed the cash for the scheme branded ‘high risk” and “unsustainable” by a watchdog.

A secret firm handed £500,000 of taxpayers’ money by a Scottish Government quango were responsible for a renewable energy scheme branded “high risk” and “unsustainable” by a watchdog.

The ‘Sunday Mail’ reported that the company given the Scottish Enterprise grant along with a highly controversial confidentiality agreement were Silva Renewables – a firm hoping to develop a contentious biomass plant in Grangemouth.

The company are controlled by three directors, all registered to addresses at multi-billion-pound Danish fund managers Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

Company secretaries Jordan Cosec Ltd are registered in Bristol but are part of a firm whose corporate services centre is in the British Virgin Islands.

When the ‘Sunday Mail’ contacted Jordan Cosec asking for help with our inquiry, we were put through to a man who replied: “A press inquiry? Gosh – that’s an excellent question.”

No one responded further – and neither Silva nor subsidiary Grangemouth Renewable Energy appear to have a website or contact details.

A Scottish Enterprise spokesman later said: “At the point of responding to this FoI request, we agreed to withhold the company name as it was at a critical point in securing additional finance from other sources.

“Time has moved on and we can confirm Silva Renewables were the recipient of £475,000 over a three-year period to support their growth ambitions.

“This comprised funding of £80,000 and a repayable grant of £395,000, which will be fully repaid.”

  • Scottish Enterprise has written off almost £100 million invested in failed ventures over the last decade – with renewables firms inflicting some of the heaviest taxpayer losses.
  • Edinburgh wave power firm Aquamarine folded in 2015 after receiving £15 million of public funds.
  • Tidal energy company Pelamis were given £16 million before going out of business.

Last year, Silva’s Grangemouth scheme, which would make fuel from wood pellets, was deemed an “unsustainable, high-risk potential investment” by environmental group Biofuelwatch.

They claim biomass plants cause climate change through CO2 emissions just the same as fossil fuel plants, as well as adding to deforestation.

The Grangemouth plant was first proposed by the Scottish Government in 2013 but in 2014 Forth Energy announced they were pulling out after utilities giant SSE decided not to invest. Silva are behind a new scaled-back proposal.

Directors of Silva and their subsidiary Grangemouth Renewable Energy are Rune Bro Roin and Christina Grumstrup Sorensen, who are Danish, and a British “investment professional” Radu Gruescu.

All three give their address in Companies House documents as Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners in Denmark. Secretaries Jordan Cosec are part of company services firm Jordans – in turn, part of Vistra, whose corporate services centre is in the British Virgin Islands.

Despite the huge sums of public money handed out by Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government refused to get involved in the Silva revelations.

A spokesman said: “Arrangements involving commercial confidentiality agreements between SE and a private firm are a matter for SE.”

Willie Rennie, Liberal MSP for Mid Fife
Willie Rennie, Liberal MSP for Mid Fife

Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie, MSP, has tabled a parliamentary question in Holyrood to the Scottish Government, calling for ministers to ensure transparency at Scottish Enterprise.

He said: “This is a vast sum. The public have the right to expect safeguards to be in place to make sure it is used fairly, properly and in a transparent way.”

  • Scottish Enterprise named Steve Dunlop as its chief executive in April, six months after part-timer Lena Wilson – who headed the quango for almost eight years – left.

10 Jul 2018

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