Chapel Farm is an award-winning 5 MW solar park on a former landfill site in Swindon owned by Swindon Borough Council. The project was energised in 2017.
PPS devised the unique blend of public sector and community investment for the scheme which was financed with a £3 million investment from Swindon Borough Council and the remaining £2.4 million from investors drawn from within the local community and across the UK.
This was done through the first renewable energy bond eligible to be held tax-free in an Innovative Finance ISA, structured by Abundance Investment. This innovative product allowed local residents to receive a healthy tax-free return on their investment of 6% for 20 years while funding a green energy project which will also enable Swindon Borough Council to use part of its profit from the scheme to fund other much needed local projects. The ISA offer was so popular that it closed three weeks early.
The project was aided by Swindon’s use of a Local Development Order (LDO) which accelerated the planning process for solar farms while still allowing full public consultation.
Chapel Farm won the 2017 Association for Public Sector Excellence award for Best Renewable Energy initiative.
This is an excellent example of a local Council working with the private sector to provide local people with a means of investing in their local community and its infrastructure.
Sajid Javid Rt Hon MP
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government