The UK’s first local government green bond raises £1 million for West Berkshire council

Solar panels being installed on West Berkshire offices (Image by West Berkshire Council)

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.

Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council, commented on the news: “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.”

The 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.

Bruce Davis, co-founder and Managing Director, Abundance Investment, commented: “We’re excited that the UK’s first Community Municipal Investment has had such a positive response – we have more in the pipeline and fully expect these will become as well known and integral to people’s investment portfolios as National Savings and Investments is now.”

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.

Cllr Ross Mackinnon, Executive Member for Finance, West Berkshire Council, commented: “We’re delighted that the CMI has proved so popular and will go a long way to helping the Council achieve its environmental objectives.

“I’m very proud that West Berkshire is the first council in the UK to launch this innovative investment.”

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.

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.