The UK’s first ever local government green bond, for West Berkshire District council, has closed after reaching its £1 million target five days early. 22% of the funds raised came from West Berkshire residents, who each invested an average of £3500. The Community Municipal Investment (CMI) attracted 640 investors in total. Investors will receive a fixed interest rate of 1.2% p.a. over the five year term. CMIs are fully regulated and tradable, free of charge, on the Abundance Marketplace.
The innovative CMI structure was developed by ethical investment platform Abundance to offer an accessible, low-risk way for local people to support green infrastructure in their area by investing directly with their council.
West Berkshire declared a Climate Emergency last year, following this up with an Environment Strategy with a target of making the district net zero by 2030. The green bond is one of the first deliverables of its strategy. The District is already reaping the benefits, with solar panels installed on five buildings across the district, including schools, leisure and care facilities and the council’s own offices, funded by the CMI.
Money raised from the bond will also go towards funding projects with the local Wildlife Trust to protect and enhance the natural environment; updating traffic signals to LED; and cycleways to promote sustainable transport.
Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council, said:
“I’m very pleased that this innovative way of funding the delivery of our Environment Strategy has had such a strong uptake from local people. Not only is it saving the council money, but it has allowed local people to get directly involved with our plans to reach Net Zero in the next decade.”
One local school to receive solar panels through the scheme was the Willink School in Burghfield Common. This will help to reduce its energy costs and supports the school budget, freeing up cash for other investment.
Bruce Davis, co-founder and Managing Director of Abundance Investment, said the firm has more issues in the pipeline and that he fully expects these will become as well known and integral to people’s investment portfolios as National Savings and Investments are now. “Our CMIs offer investors the ability to invest for a low risk and receive a fixed return while knowing their money is working hard to accelerate the UK’s progress to Net Zero,” he said.
While West Berkshire’s CMI is now closed, Warrington Council is also raising funds through a CMI which remains open for investment, and has already achieved over half of its target. Leeds City Council is expected to launch its own CMI later this year.
Abundance is a leading direct investment platform that is putting people in control of their money. People invest in individual projects that generate something good for the environment and society as well as bank-beating returns.
The investor chooses which project or business to invest in from just £5 and benefits from a financial return, while the world benefits from the growth of sustainable businesses.
Since launching in 2012, more than 6,000 people have invested over £100m directly into the projects they support via the Abundance platform, with over £25m returned to investors. In the process, Abundance has achieved a number of firsts. As well as being the world’s first FCA-regulated peer-to-peer investment company, it is also the first investment platform to offer a dedicated peer-to-peer investment SIPP and launched the UK’s first innovative finance ISA for renewable energy investments on November 1st 2016.