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James Owen of Swindon Commercial Services

Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy offers fresh community solar investment opportunity

Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy is aiming to raise £2.7m through its latest community share offer to help fund the building of a solar farm at Purton.

The 5 MWp solar array, which has been developed by Swindon Commercial Services, already has planning permission, and will generate electricity for the equivalent of around 1,400 average homes.

An initiative of local charity Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, WWCE last year built the community-owned Chelworth Solar Array (1 MWp), which has already paid its first seven percent return to investors.

It is forecast that Braydon Manor Farm Solar Array will also deliver a similar return for the 25-year life of the project, and it has pre-approval for Enterprise Investment Scheme tax relief to boost returns further.

The minimum investment is £500, and the share offer closes on December 12.

WWCE is working with Bath & West Community Energy, which was recently named Community Energy Organisation of the Year.

The share offer is managed by online investment marketplace Ethex, who specialise in ‘positive’ investments that deliver social and environmental benefits as well as financial ones.

The Braydon Manor Farm Solar Array will be community-owned with 80 percent of surplus profit paid to local communities through the community fund, the remaining 20 percent going directly to the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) to help fund its work.

Over 25 years this could result in over £2.1m being shared between local communities and the WWT.

James Owen, commercial director of Swindon Commercial services, said: “We are very pleased to be working with WWCE on this local project which can become a model for community energy investment.

“The array will help to cut carbon and contribute to energy security, but instead of the profits going to big energy companies, it will be owned by local people, fund local community projects, and promote biodiversity – everyone’s a winner.”

WWCE has organised a series of investor roadshows to explain the scheme and its benefits and answer questions about the project, with events being held near Salisbury, in Oaksey and Devizes over the next few weeks.

More details and a short film about the project visit can be found on the WWCE website –