A NEW chance to invest in a Wiltshire solar project is on offer.

Developed in a partnership between Wiltshire Wildlife Energy Community (WWCE) and Swindon Commercial Services, planning permission has been granted for a 5MW solar farm at Braydon Manor, near Purton, generating the equivalent power for 1,400 homes.

To fund the £2.7m construction, locals are being given the chance to invest in the project, which WWCE is forecasting will offer a return of about seven per cent.

It is hoped that on top of that, the scheme will also generate more than £2m for community projects.

It is not the first community project of this nature that WWCE – a community-owned sustainable energy company – has run. Last year, it built a 1MW solar farm in Chelworth, which is already giving a seven per cent return to investors.

The share offer is managed by online investment marketplace Ethex, which specialises in ‘positive’ investments that deliver social and environmental benefits, as well as financial ones.

The Braydon Manor Farm Solar Array will be community-owned, with 80 per cent of profits paid to local communities through a special fund and the remaining 20 per cent going directly to the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.

Lesley Bennett, chairman of WWCE, said: “The Braydon Manor Farm site is low-grade land previously used for grazing horses, which makes it ideal for a solar array.

"Land around the solar panels will be transformed into a wildflower meadow and become a haven for wildlife, with sheep grazing as well.

“Not only will it generate clean renewable energy, but it will also help support traditional agriculture and enhance biodiversity.”

Swindon Commercial Services is involved in a number of solar projects around the region, including plans to build one of the largest solar farms in the country, at Wroughton Airfield.

Commercial director James Owen said: “We are pleased to be working with WWCE on this local project, which can become a model for community energy investment.

“The array will help to cut carbon and contribute to energy security, but instead of the profits going to big energy companies, it will be owned by local people, fund local community projects and promote biodiversity – everyone’s a winner.”

The minimum investment in the project is £500 and the deadline for the share offer is December 12.

Anyone interested can find out more from the Ethex website – www.ethex.org.uk/WWCE