Westmill Solar Co-operative opens new Community Grants Scheme

Demonstrating the power of locally-owned community energy projects to accelerate the UK’s low-carbon transition

Westmill Solar Co-operative, the UK’s first community-owned solar farm, has opened and is accepting applications for funding up to £5,000 from its new Community Grants Scheme.

In these difficult times, the climate emergency is still looming and the need for this kind of scheme is particularly great. We welcome applications from local organisations who are striving to ‘build back better’ and promote more sustainable lifestyles and a co-operative approach.

The 5MW solar park has now been operating under community ownership for nearly 8 years. It creates enough clean, renewable energy to power over 1,800 homes and prevent around 1,350 tonnes of harmful CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere every year.

Westmill Solar sells the power it generates to Co-operative Energy and a proportion of its financial surplus is contributed to activities designed to benefit local communities.

More than £200,000 has already been provided to various causes, including the funding of energy audits for local community buildings, the development of an educational and schools’ visits programme and a contribution towards a new visitors’ centre in Highworth.

Westmill Solar hopes to contribute more than £2 million to funding community projects over the next 15 years to directly benefit many more local and environmental causes – which is why they’re launching a community grants programme.

They are looking for community benefit projects and activities that align with one or more of these co-operative principles:

  • Community
  • Sustainability
  • Education, training and sharing information.

Organisations in Oxfordshire or within 25 miles of the Westmill site (in Watchfield, Swindon, SN6 8TH) can apply for grants between £500 and £5,000.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon, 28 September 2020 and detailed guidance notes and application forms can be found on their website.

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