Above: what the proposed wind turbine could look like, pictured on land between Severn Beach and Avonmouth. Photo courtesy of ALW and The Landmark Practice.

£150,000 City Funds investment could generate £1.5m to address local fuel poverty.

City Funds announced this week an investment of £150,000 into Ambition Community Energy (ACE), a community-owned business developing plans to build a 4.2 MegaWatt wind turbine between Severn Beach and Avonmouth. The investment will allow ACE to complete the planning and pre-construction stages of the turbine that will generate enough clean energy to power the equivalent of approximately 3,850 houses, putting £1.5m into the hands of the community over the 30-year lifespan of the project.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Ambition Lawrence Weston (ALW), ACE was established in 2018 as a means of delivering the green energy ambitions of the Lawrence Weston Community Plan. In addition to saving a total of 94 MegaTonnes of CO2 the wind turbine will generate £50,000 for ALW each year, which will in turn be reinvested into local fuel poverty mitigation and other community benefits.

Ambition Lawrence Weston (ALW) is a resident-led and driven charity and company, set up to support residents in the regeneration of Lawrence Weston area, in North Bristol. ALW works to deliver a clear remit coming from the resident-written and devised Community Development Plan, “The Way Forward 2018-2023”. Community energy was identified as a core part of this plan, helping address carbon reduction goals as well as generating income for a community where up to 70% of households struggle with their energy bill.

Mark Pepper, Development Manager at Ambition Lawrence Weston, said:

“Without the support and funding from City Funds this project would have stopped dead in its tracks. Now we have the funding needed to help secure planning permission. This will ensure the project delivers a mass of community benefits to Lawrence Weston and the surrounding areas.

Not only will this project provide the direct environmental and financial benefits to Ambition Lawrence Weston, but we also hope this will give confidence to other community groups to make positive ambitious changes to their own communities in the future.”

ACE approached City Funds for pre-construction finance because it allowed the community to retain ownership of the project. Renewables projects are commonly developed through a portfolio approach that minimises the risk of planning rejections. However, this path could have cost the community up to half of its projected annual income. City Funds was able to find a financial solution that moved the project forward while also keeping it in community ownership.

Andy Street, Chair of City Funds, said:

“City Funds investment into ACE shows how the right type of investment at the right time can maximise benefit for the community. When built, this turbine is going to be an important asset for the Lawrence Weston Community, and contribute to Bristol’s carbon-reduction goals at the same time.”

One of the first funds of its kind in the UK, City Funds brings together investment, grant and local authority support in a coordinated place-based approach to tackling inequality. With different types of funding under one roof, City Funds will strengthen Bristol-based initiatives that are working to solve some of the biggest social and environmental problems the city faces. The fund can invest from £50,000 to £1 million with flexible terms that support social or environmental aims. City Funds is actively seeking opportunities to invest in organisations that support these aims, through its investment advisor Bristol & Bath Regional Capital (BBRC).

Initiatives seeking funding can find out more at www.bristolcityfunds.co.uk