Message from West Berkshire Council:
West Berkshire is set to be part of a pilot scheme that would enable communities to invest in green projects in the district.
 
Under the proposed scheme, which will be considered by the Executive Committee on Thursday (19 December), individuals both in and outside of West Berkshire will be able to invest as little as £5 to support specific projects such as solar panels or tree planting. In return, they will receive Climate Change Bonds and a return on their investment.
 
Although the bonds could be used to deliver a wide variety of infrastructure projects, West Berkshire Council intends to prioritise projects which support its recent declaration of a climate emergency, and the Environment Strategy which will be adopted in 2020.
 
Ross Mackinnon, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Finance said:
 
“This scheme has great potential and could enable the Council to take on important green projects.
 
“If our communities invest, it would provide us with a cheaper alternative to conventional sources of funds and reduce the overall cost of borrowing to all taxpayers across the district. We want to keep the administration as simple as possible, which is why we are seeking to pilot this scheme with an outside organisation.

 “If the proposal is given the green light by the Executive, people can play a real part in the coming years in helping us to maintain a green district and achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, while earning a return on their investment.”
 
A Community Municipal Bond (CMB) is a bond or loan mechanism issued by a Council directly to the public via a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulated crowdfunding platform. The Council is considering Abundance Investment as a provider. 
 
CMBs can be used to supplement, diversify or replace sources of borrowing to fund specific infrastructure projects, or to refinance existing debt. They can also be issued as Green, Digital or Social Housing Bonds if the proceeds are being earmarked for specific suitable projects.
 
Subject to completing due diligence on the scheme, which will be funded through the pilot by external funding, the Council hope to launch the scheme to investors in the middle of 2020.