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UK's first local government green bond raises £1 million for West Berkshire

Council's green bond reaches £1 million target five days early

2020 Solar Panels on roof of Market Street offices

Issued on: 14 October 2020

 

The UK's first ever local government green bond, for West Berkshire Council, has closed after reaching its £1 million target five days early. 22% of the funds raised came from West Berkshire residents, who each invested an average of £3500. The Community Municipal Investment (CMI) attracted 640 investors in total.

The innovative CMI structure, developed by ethical investment platform Abundance to offer an accessible, low-risk way for local people to support green infrastructure in their area by investing directly with their council. 

West Berkshire declared a Climate Emergency last year, following this up with anEnvironment Strategy with a target of making the district net zero by 2030. The green bond is one of the first deliverables of its strategy. The district is already reaping the benefits, with solar panels installed on five buildings across the district, including schools, leisure and care facilities and the council's own offices, funded by the CMI.

Money raised from the bond will also go towards funding projects with the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) to protect and enhance the natural environment; updating traffic signals to LED; and cycleways to promote sustainable transport.

Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council, said:

"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. 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."

Ross Mackinnon, West Berkshire's Executive Member for Finance said:

"We're delighted that the CMI has proved so popular and will go a long way to helping the Council achieve its environmental objectives. I'm very proud that West Berkshire is the first council in the UK to launch this innovative investment."

The Willink School in Burghfield Common received solar panels through the scheme. Peter Fry, Head, said:

"The Willink School's motto is 'Village school, global outlook'. 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."

Aldermaston C of E Primary School also received solar panels. Melanie Higgs, Head, said: 

"We're delighted to be part of this project.  Our children are passionate about protecting the environment so the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint by generating green energy was very welcome.  The solar panels were installed over the summer and we can't wait to see how much energy we can produce and how this will benefit the school's finances." 

Bruce Davis, co-founder and Managing Director, Abundance Investment, said:

"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. 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. "

Other Councils are now following in the footsteps of West Berkshire. These include Warrington and Leeds City Council.