£15m rural energy fund opens

A £15m government fund has opened to applications from rural communities who want to generate their own green power.

The Rural Community Energy Fund aims to help rural communities access the money needed to carry out feasibility studies into renewable energy projects.

It also helps fund the costs associated with applying for planning permission.

In doing so, the government intends that projects will then be able to attract private finance to pay for renewable energy kit and get projects up and running.

Rural energy projects eligible for funding including wind, solar, biomass, heat pumps, anaerobic digestion, gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and hydro.

Energy minister Greg Barker said: "This investment will help kick start hundreds of clean green energy projects in rural areas across England.

"This new fund will give aspiring communities access to the cash they need to make this happen.

"Not only can local generation bring people together, boost local economies and drive forward green growth, it can help save money on energy bills too."

More than 200 community energy projects had already started to blossom thanks to the government's Local Energy Assessment Fund, said Mr Barker.

"I would encourage as many rural communities as possible to grasp this new opportunity with both hands."

The fund is being delivered on behalf of the government by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin said: "We have a good track record in developing new markets and sectors for a range of resource efficiency areas and look forward to working with community groups."

Funding is offered in two stages.

The first stage is a grant of up to £20,000 on offer for feasibility studies into renewable energy projects in local areas.

Once these studies have been completed, communities can then apply for a loan worth up to around £130,000 to help with project costs, planning permission and environmental permits.

The loan is repayable to Government once projects have received the necessary private sector funding required to get them up and running.

Community groups will need to pay back a set amount on top of the loan borrowed which will be rolled back into the fund to help support more community energy projects.

Applications will be reviewed on a monthly basis and there is no set deadline for bids.


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