Public green investment programme launches
West Berkshire Council has launched the UK’s first Community Municipal Investment (CMI) offering their residents and community groups a unique way to invest directly in a greener future for the district.
The launch took place at Greenham Common where a Council owned building has been the first in a series of solar panel installations around the district. The move, which was supported by all political parties in West Berkshire, supports West Berkshire’s declaration of a Climate Emergency and is a key part of the Council’s new Environment Strategy.
A Community Municipal Investment (CMI) is a bond or loan mechanism issued by a Council directly to the public. It will be provided in partnership with the ethical online crowdfunding platform Abundance Investment, which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
CMIs can be used to supplement, diversify or replace sources of borrowing to fund specific infrastructure projects, or to refinance existing debt. West Berkshire will use its CMI to finance green projects in the district, such as installation of solar panels at a building on Greenham Common and five other buildings, including two local schools.
Ross Mackinnon, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Finance and Economic Development said: “It is very exciting to be the first council to offer CMIs to our residents and community groups. They are an innovative way to put residents’ money to work to help us build back greener after the pandemic.
“It is even more exciting to see green projects already coming to life, with installations already complete at Greenham Common, Phoenix Centre and at the Council’s Offices, here in Market Street, Newbury.
“Communities investing directly with us will provide us with a cheaper alternative to conventional sources of funds reducing the overall cost of borrowing to all taxpayers across the district as well as making a positive contribution toward our target to be carbon neutral by 2030.”
Steve Ardagh-Walter, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for the Environment said: "This is great news for West Berkshire and a real win/win in the drive towards carbon neutrality. A greener future is something that everybody wants, and this is an opportunity for local people to be at the fore of making that happen – I hope that as many people as possible will participate.”
Bruce Davis, co-founder and Managing Director, Abundance Investment, said: "After many months of development, there is real excitement at the UK's first Community Municipal Investment going live. It’s an innovative way to democratize finance and people want to mobilise their money to help their local council build back better and greener. West Berkshire are leading the way and we hope many other councils in the UK will follow."
You can get more information here.