Edinburgh solar-energy co-operative seeks investors before tax perk is removed

The Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative Project was launched by former TV weather presented Heather Reid, pictured with school pupil Abi Kinloch, 6.
The Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative Project was launched by former TV weather presented Heather Reid, pictured with school pupil Abi Kinloch, 6.

Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative is encouraging investors to move quickly after the UK government announced plans to remove community energy projects from its Enterprise Investment Scheme, which allows investors to claim income tax relief of 30% on their investment.  

The co-operative was launched in September and has raised more than £100,000. The scheme aims to raise £1.4 million to install solar panels on 25 public buildings across the capital. 

If fully subscribed, the scheme will offer an index-linked 5% return to investors. The project qualifies for the UK Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme – delivering a potential return of around 7%, depending on individual investor tax-circumstances.

However this investment incentive is set to close. The Finance Bill currently being considered in the UK Parliament proposes to close the scheme to new applicants after November 30.

Richard Dixon, Chairman, Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative, said: “Anyone in the UK can buy shares and become a member of the co-operative. There are 1.4 million shares at £1 each, and the minimum anyone can buy is 250 shares (£250 pounds).

“If we look across the country, we can see that investing in community co-operatives has proved very popular, with individuals or households typically buying around four thousand shares or more.

“In Scotland the Spirit of Lanarkshire Co-op raised £2.7 million to invest in part of a larger wind farm in South Lanarkshire whilst the West Solent Solar Co-op raised £2.2 million to build a solar farm on a greenfield site near Lymington in Hampshire. 

‘In each offer, the primary purpose is to create a local community benefit. In Edinburgh, any surplus profit the co-op generates from the scheme will go towards a Community Benefit Fund which will support new low carbon projects across the city. 

“If the share offer is oversubscribed, first preference for shares will go to people within Edinburgh council area. Each member has one vote regardless of the number of shares held.”

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