Sussex residents embrace local energy

Meadow Blue logo£1.248 million is raised for a community solar project near Chichester, double the original target

Almost half the investors in Meadow Blue Community Energy’s community-owned solar farm in Merston near Chichester came from within 35 miles of the project.  The share offer was one of 15 launched across the country in the month following the announcement of the Treasury’s removal of Enterprise Investment Scheme tax relief on community energy projects, and raised the largest amount.

Chris Rowland Chairman of Meadow Blue Community Energy says, “We are delighted that there was an overwhelming response to our community share offer, particularly with 48% of investors coming from within 35 miles of the solar farm, including a number of existing OVESCO share holders (around 15%) all investing in the future of local clean energy. We look forward to working with our new members and locally based energy company Solesco to develop the community benefit fund to encourage local energy efficiency and low carbon sustainable projects.”

Dave Barton, Director of Meadow Blue Community Energy and locally based Solesco commented, “In three weeks we have been able to raise these funds, and in doing so giving local people a chance to invest in local renewable energy.  This is a really good message for our future generations and for tackling climate change. Solesco is proud to be involved with this project which seeks to engage local communities.”

15 community benefit societies (bencoms) running solar projects across the UK have announced their fundraising totals, with four funds securing investments of over £1 million for their share offers.

Top of the list of bencoms was Sussex’s Meadow Blue which raised £1.248 million. The share offer launched with an initial target of £640,000, but this was increased to £1.14 million following such strong demand for shares.

Jan Willem Bode of Mongoose Energy – which worked with Meadow Blue, said: “This exceptional rate of investment in community renewable projects shows there is wide-scale support for community energy to be a significant player in the industry in the UK. With it happening within a week of the announced plan to shut coal-fired stations, I think we will look back at this moment and realise this is the beginning of truly locally owned, low carbon power.

”While the removal of EIS is an odd blow for George Osborne to land on the same day as the UN Climate Change Conference, it has helped to raise awareness and interest in these opportunities and these investment figures shows that people want to invest in ethical, local energy sources.”

Emma Bridge of Community Energy England said: “Community Energy plays a key part in helping to add renewable energy capacity whilst also enabling programmes such as those that reduce energy poverty. This investment level is fantastic and really demonstrates the level of support that there is for community energy and the extra benefits it brings.”