Overseas development: Byers' misgivings over controversial dam revealed

STEPHEN BYERS, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, was embroiled in fresh controversy over British funding of Turkey's Ilisu Dam yesterday when it emerged he had been highly critical of a department he now heads for its involvement in similar schemes.

Mr Byers, in charge of the Export Credits Guarantee Department, is expected to give the go-ahead to the dam project by authorising pounds 200m worth of insurance to the British companies taking part. But when he was in opposition, he raised serious concerns about potential conflicts of interest in the department, pointing out that it was closely advised by the very companies that then benefited from the ECGD's financial support.

Last week The Independent on Sunday revealed that the Prime Minister wants British firms to press ahead with building the Ilisu Dam, despite international opposition, with the deal underwritten by the ECGD.

Mr Byers is being urged to provide pounds 200m of backing to a consortium led by Balfour Beatty in the form of an export credit guarantee. This means that the consortium is certain to be paid even if the Turkish government defaults.

But the Secretary of State is understood to have grave reservations over the dam which, if built, would drive thousands of Kurds from their homes in the south-east of Turkey. His criticism of the credits guarantee system has been seized on by opponents of the dam who say its construction would chiefly benefit large corporations.

Balfour Beatty was one of those companies represented on the 10-strong ECGD advisory council in 1995 when Mr Byers raised the issue. Another was the Weir Group. Viscount Weir, a co-founder of the Weir Group, an engineering company, is also chairman of BICC plc, the parent company of Balfour Beatty.

At the time, official figures showed Balfour Beatty had been involved in three ECGD contracts since joining the advisory council, while the Weir Group had picked up two. Neither company currently has representatives on the ECGD advisory council.

Critics of the Ilisu Dam on the river Tigris, near Turkey's border with Syria and Iraq, say it will drown one of the world's oldest towns and risk starting a new war in the Middle East.

When Mr Byers queried the structure of the ECGD in 1995, he stressed he was not suggesting any wrongdoing by any of the council members. But he said the overlap between companies which benefited from the work of the ECGD and those with members on the advisory committee "must be a cause for concern".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

Special Needs Teaching Assistant

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Special Educational Needs Teach...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London