Ethical investment figures revealed

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Published: Saturday 18th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Tens of millions of pounds have been invested in community renewables schemes in the past few years, a report said.

A record 1.7 million people across the UK are investing and saving £3.25 billion in businesses which have positive social and environmental impacts, the report from ethical investment exchange Ethex said.

Most of the money is in credit unions and ethical banks and building societies, but £249 million is invested in community share offers, charities and businesses set up to solve social or environmental problems and make financial returns, the report said.

Since early 2012, some £47 million of people’s personal wealth has been invested in 152 community schemes to fund projects ranging from renewable schemes to pub projects, bringing the total invested in community share offers to £122 million.

Renewable energy projects are the most popular area for community investment, with £29 million raised for 56 projects since early 2012.

The Ethex report also revealed that 25 projects have raised £4.7 million for community brewing and pubs, £1.9 million has been raised for 34 shop projects, and three schemes have raised £5.4 million for development and fairtrade schemes in that time.

Around the UK, Oxford is leading the way for investment hotspots with £7.9 million raised from eight share offers since 2012, including £5.8 million for Westmill Solar Co-operative, the largest community-owned solar park in Europe, the report said.

Bristol has raised £5.6 million in nine offers, including £2.2 million for the Low Carbon Gordano solar array whose 7,500 solar panels will produce enough power for around 500 homes.

Elsewhere, charities are increasingly issuing “positive bonds” to raise money as grant funding is cut, according to the report, launched to coincide with Good Money Week.

Jamie Hartzell, founder of Ethex, said: “A growing number of people are taking control of their money and making it do good, choosing to save and invest directly in businesses that deliver not only a financial return but also demonstrable benefit to society.”

And he said: “Communities all over Britain are getting together to set up renewable energy projects which offer investors a return on their money and benefit their communities by stimulating the local economy, cutting carbon, and building awareness of energy consumption and climate change.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “Communities increasingly have the power to come together to take control of the energy they use. The opportunity for community energy projects to deliver lower bills, to tackle fuel poverty and to help tackle climate change has never been greater.

“Community energy is growing in the UK and this government is committed to supporting projects and driving even more investment into the sector.”

Published: Saturday 18th October 2014 by The News Editor

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