THE local group hoping to buy back the solar farm at Watchfield is sprinting towards the finish line in its attempt to raise £4m in just six weeks.
With only nine days to go until the share offer closes, Westmill Solar Co-operative has received almost 800 applications for membership, raising over £3.5m.
And it is looking like it will break all records for the fastest money-raising initiative by a local community group for this level of investment .
Farmer Adam Twine is a director of the co-op and was the driving force behind the five community owned wind turbines already operating at Watchfield.
He said: “We were expecting to be fully subscribed as this is such a unique and exciting project. And now that word is getting out it looks like we will.
“Almost five years ago in a different economic climate, Westmill Wind farm raised £4.3m in three months.
“It was then, the largest share offer by a co-op in the UK. Today we are hoping to smash that record with the speed of Westmill Solar’s share offer.”
The project is open to businesses as well as individuals and has the backing of retailer Midcounties Co-operative, based in Swindon, which is supporting the project by investing and telling their members about it.
Frank Gordon, project manager for Westmill Solar, said: “This is a rare opportunity for businesses who are interested in either offsetting their carbon emissions or giving their business some security against rising energy prices.
“If a business wants to demonstrate that it is doing its bit for the environment, generating your own green electricity by owning part of this solar farm is a great way to do it.
“Equally if electricity prices rise Westmill Solar Co-op will get more for the electricity we are selling and so the returns to members will also go up.”
So far nearly all applicants are individuals, the majority of whom live within the 40km radius which gives them priority if the share offer is over subscribed.
For more information, visit www.westmillsolar.coop or call 01367 610 001. The share offer closes at midnight on July 31.
l See Adam Twine, Business Person of the Month. Page 18