New funds to help deliver solar arrays, LED traffic lights, cycleways, and nature protection projects
The UK's first local government green bond reached a successful close yesterday, reaching its £1m target five days ahead of the deadline.
Green investment platform, Abundance Investment, which managed the issuance for West Berkshire District Council said it had attracted 640 investors who each invested an average of around £1,500. Just over a fifth of investors were West Berkshire residents.
The company said the innovative CMI structure had been developed to offer an "accessible, low-risk way for local people to support green infrastructure in their area by investing directly with their council".
The bond issuance is one of the first steps in West Berkshire's decarbonisation efforts, following its recent declaration of a 'climate emergency'.
The bond will help fund the installation of solar panels on five buildings across the district, including schools, leisure and care facilities and the council's own offices.
In addition, money raised from the bond will go towards funding projects with the local Wildlife Trust to protect and enhance the natural environment; updating traffic signals to ultra-efficient LEDs; and developing cycleways to promote sustainable transport.
"I'm very pleased that this innovative way of funding the delivery of our Environment Strategy has had such a strong uptake from local people," said Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council. "Not only is it saving the council money, but it has allowed local people to get directly involved with our plans to reach Net Zero in the next decade."
Her comments were echoed by Peter Fry, head teacher at Willink School in Burghfield Common, which recently installed solar panels as part of the scheme.
"The Willink School's motto is 'Village school, global outlook'," he said. "This project is a wonderful example for our students and the community of thinking globally, acting locally. On top of that our energy costs are reduced, so positively helping the school budget, and installation was fully glitch free. I cannot recommend the project highly enough."
Bruce Davis, co-founder and managing director at Abundance Investment, said the local government green bond was likely to be the first of many.
"We're excited that the UK's first Community Municipal Investment has had such a positive response - we have more in the pipeline and fully expect these will become as well known and integral to people's investment portfolios as National Savings and Investments is now," he said. "Our CMIs offer investors the ability to invest for a low risk and receive a fixed return while knowing their money is working hard to accelerate the UK's progress to Net Zero."
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