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WWCE chairman Lesley Bennett

Community energy scheme raises over £2 million from local investors

A solar farm at Purton – which will generate enough energy to supply an estimated 1,400 homes – will now go ahead, after investors flocked to fund the project.

Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy (WWCE) is now over three-quarters of the way to reaching its £2.7 million target to build the Braydon Manor Farm Solar Array near Purton, after passing the two-million pound milestone this week.

The share offer closes on January 23, but the project has now raised enough money to ensure it goes ahead, with any shortfall in finance being underwritten by Resonance, a community share underwriting fund.

More than 83 percent of investors come from the local area, with Marlborough providing the largest amount of investment (11.8 percent), followed by Chippenham (7.4 percent), Devizes (7.1 percent), Salisbury (6.4 percent) and Swindon (five percent).

WWCE chairman Lesley Bennett said: “It’s fantastic news that we’ve raised over two million pounds, ensuring the project’s success, with such strong support from across Wiltshire.

“Our investors will not only earn a fair financial return from their investment; they are helping to secure a community-owned project generating significant, long-term benefits for local people – cutting carbon and supporting wildlife and biodiversity – for many years to come.”

The investment return will come from the government’s Feed-in Tariff subsidy and the direct sale of the electricity generated.

WWCE has returned seven percent per annum on its previous project, the Chelworth solar array, near Cricklade, and forecasts a similar seven percent return on this project.

The scheme is also eligible for the Enterprise Investment Scheme, which means qualifying taxpayers could boost potential returns further.

Surplus profits will be recycled back into the community through an independent community benefit fund for re-investing in further local, environmental projects and to support the work of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Over 25 years this could amount to over £2.1 million.