Joan Ruddock, energy and climate change minister, has launched the Foundation fund to support low-carbon projects in north-west England.
The fund will give individuals and businesses the opportunity to donate £1m a year to community-level carbon-reducing projects. Projects to be considered will range from insulation, solar panels and wind turbines to biological carbon sinks such as peat bogs.
The money will be managed by Groundwork Northwest and chaired by United Utilities, with an initial investment of £1.6m from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). The organisations are currently aiming to raise an additional £3m in donations over the next three years.
Projects that find difficulty gaining funding elsewhere will be given priority and social benefits will be assessed on an equal basis to a project’s pound-per-carbon-saving ratio.
Mark Turner, chief officer of Foundation, said: ‘Foundation is making a significant impact across the north west, helping the region to tackle climate change. All the projects supported will also deliver a wide range of social and economic benefits – improving the standard of living and quality of life, often in some of the most deprived parts of the region.
‘Our approach is proactive and sustainable to ensure people get help to make tangible changes to where and how they live. Foundation backs projects that work closely with communities to address issues including fuel poverty and energy efficiency. We also want to stimulate local economies and job markets, so, where possible, we encourage the use of products and suppliers sourced within the region,’ he added.
Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the NWDA, said: ‘The launch of Foundation comes at a time when the issues of energy and climate change are becoming increasingly high-profile priorities on a national and international level. During these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever that we employ innovative financing mechanisms to secure investment and encourage business support to tackle climate change.
‘Through innovation and resourcefulness, England’s north west will remain a leading exemplar of effective action, preparing it for the challenges of climate change and ensuring a sound infrastructure to support a low-carbon global economy,’ he added.