Community-owned solar farm project nears £1.4m goal

Gylemuir Primary pupil Abi Kinloch launched the scheme back in September. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Gylemuir Primary pupil Abi Kinloch launched the scheme back in September. Picture: Colin Hattersley

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MORE than £840,000 worth of share purchases have been snapped up in a community-owned city solar farm project - aiming to be the biggest in the UK.

Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative is now more than half way to reaching its £1.4 million funding target – with several leading names in the city heading the charge.

Council leader Andrew Burns, renewable energy firm Locogen and Edinburgh Zoo, are all pledging to buy a stake.

And members of the community have also pledged their support with as little as £250 to become a share holder.

The ambitious project aims to put solar panels on 25 public buildings across the Capital in a bid to boost its green energy output – with the first panels expected to go up in spring next year.

Richard Dixon, chair of the Solar Co-op and director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, called on residents across the city to get involved.

He said: “It is not always easy for individuals or businesses to put solar panels where they live or work, but purchasing shares in a solar co-op is an ideal way of part-owning and supporting renewable energy close to home.

“This call for shares has been made all the more timely by the decision of the UK government to cut off a vital UK tax credit for community energy investors.

“Later this month they will close the Enterprise Investment Scheme, which allows investors to claim income tax relief of 30 per cent on their investment.

“This vital tax credit is available to investors who commit to the scheme before Friday, so I would encourage anyone with an interest in the Edinburgh share offer to visit our website and order a prospectus now.”

With a minimum share purchase of £250 per person, the project is well on course to become the UK’s largest community-owned urban renewables scheme.

Once completed, it should generate enough green energy to build a £1m community fund to pump cash back into local sustainable schemes – as well as cutting down on nearly a thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Buildings set to host solar panels are mostly schools, community and leisure centres owned by the council, including Wardie Primary School, Carrickvale Community Centre and Ainslie Park Leisure Centre.

Council leader Andrew Burns said the project would bring far-reaching benefits to the Capital in years to come. He said: “This is fantastic news for Edinburgh and will bring long-term environmental, social and economic benefits to the city. I’ve registered for shares in the project and I’d encourage anyone with an interest in supporting green energy to consider investing.”