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Ex-BBC weather presenter lends a hand

Public urged to buy shares in solar energy scheme

Edinburgh Solar Energy

Former BBC weather presenter Heather ‘The Weather’ Reid today helped launch a project to install solar energy panels at 25 schools, community and leisure centres that will cut down on greenhouse gases.

The minimum share purchase is £250 per person, and if the project raises enough money to install panels on all sites, it will become the UK’s largest community-owned urban renewables scheme.

It is run by the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative and once complete it should generate enough green energy to build a £1m community fund and save the city council nearly 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Children at Gylemuir Primary were on hand to show off their own renewable energy ideas – including models of machines which could use green power – and to find out more about the project.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland and chairman of the co-operative, said: “This share offer is a great way for residents of Edinburgh – and beyond – to become part owner of a renewable energy scheme.

“Anyone in Scotland – in fact anyone in the UK – can apply to buy shares, but preference will be given to people living within the City of Edinburgh Council area. In total we are looking to raise £1.4 million, and if the offer is, as we hope, oversubscribed, Edinburgh folk will be first in line.

Heather Reid solar energy“Every co-op member is projected to receive a return of five per cent on their shares, and any surplus the coop generates will go towards a Community Benefit Fund which will support new sustainable energy projects across the city.”

In the first five years of the project, applications for funding will be invited from users of the buildings – including Gylemuir Primary – on which panels have been installed.

Ms Reid, who formally launched the scheme, said: “It is a terrific initiative. Scotland’s east coast sees on average more than 1,200 hours of sunshine a year and this is plenty to generate significant amounts of green power. It has clearly captured the imagination of the children at Gylemuir Primary School and I hope they are encouraging their parents and grandparents – and even local businesses – to buy some shares.”

Council transport vice convener Councillor Adam McVey, said: “This a wonderful project and will bring significant long term environmental, social and economic benefits to the city.

“We have an ambitious target of reducing Edinburgh’s carbon emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and this new community co-operative is an important step towards us achieving this.”

The share offer opens today. Co-op members will get a projected return of five per cent per year on their shares, plus RPI. Subject to approval from HMRC, the investment will also be eligible for the Enterprise Investment Scheme, offering income tax relief of 30% on any investment.

To download or order a share offer document, or to find out more, visit www.edinburghsolar.coop, call 01229 821028 or text SUNSHINE to 60777 (standard rate). A full list of the proposed buildings can be found on the coop web site.

The co-op is also hosting a number of drop-in events if you would like to find out more. These will take place from 10am to 4pm at:

  • Liberton Primary School – Saturday October 10
  • Currie Community High School – Saturday October 17
  • Drumbrae Leisure Centre – Saturday October 24
  • Portobello Leisure Centre (Tumbles) – Saturday October 31
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