TOWN Hall chiefs look set to approve plans which would give the public the chance to invest with the council to develop a new solar farm.

The Labour-run authority’s cabinet will consider proposals for the launch of a new community municipal bond (CMB) to help it deliver the project at its meeting next Wednesday.

The scheme has been in development since 2018 as part of the council’s ongoing work to deliver its green energy strategy and meet the aims of its climate emergency declaration.

If the plans for the CMB are approved, the public will be able to be part of the project.

The power generated from the solar farm in Cirencester will be used to meet the council’s energy needs, with any surplus energy generated sold.

The council says it will support its aims of tackling the climate emergency and becoming carbon neutral by 2030, generating income to help protect essential services and ‘engendering collaborative working’ with residents on the green agenda.

A CMB is a bond issued by a local authority directly to the public via an internet-based crowdfunding platform.

The council says by investing as little as £5, investors will be able to support the project and receive a long-term, low-risk return.

The plans form part of a nationwide pilot exploring using CMBs to fund infrastructure for local authorities and would see the council issuing a CMB to fund up to £10 million of the Cirencester project.

The bond would be issued to residents and investors from across the country to receive a percentage return on their capital for the investment.

It is expected to be launched in the coming weeks as lockdown restrictions are eased.

The scheme would be administered by Abundance, a separate FCA registered company, on behalf of the council.

Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden said: “We have recently seen much emphasis being put on the need for climate-friendly stimulus policies to reboot economies in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

“In Warrington, we remain committed to delivering a carbon neutral future, while doing all we can to protect our vital services now and in the future.

“The proposed CMB scheme would allow people to invest directly with us to help build a greener and more prosperous future for the borough.

“As such, it would give residents and community groups a fantastic opportunity to make a sound, social investment, while supporting our work to address the climate change emergency we all face.”

The plans are the latest part of the council’s ongoing programme to mitigate climate change and carbon emissions, generate a financial return for the council, create employment opportunities and reduce fuel poverty.

While the bonds would be targeted at people living within the Warrington region, they would also be available to people living across the UK.

CMBs are built to prioritise individual investment but are compatible with the requirements of institutional investors such as pension funds.

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