£140,000 fund on offer to support rural community renewables projects

Financial support worth up to £140,000 is on offer to help rural community groups in England develop renewable energy projects.

The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) is inviting groups to register their interest in its revamped scheme, which helps pay for an initial feasibility study, as well as offering funding to get the scheme through its development stage and apply for planning permission.

Eligible projects include wind, solar, biomass, heat pumps, anaerobic digestion, gas combined heat and power, and hydro.

See also: Read more about farm energy projects 

The scheme is aimed at projects that will generate energy for multiple buildings and bring economic and social benefits to the local community.

The RCEF scheme has been operational since 2013, but responsibility for its delivery has recently been transferred from the charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) to five regional local energy hubs.

The hubs are split by Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) regions – North East Yorkshire and Humber, North West, Midlands, South West and South East.

Support is available for projects in two stages. The first stage offers grants of up to £40,000, up from the previous figure of £20,000, to cover the professional costs of drawing up a feasibility study for a renewable energy project.

If a project passes this first stage, then up to £100,000 is on offer to help cover the costs of business development and planning permission for feasible schemes.

Applicants need to be a legal entity that has the authority to represent the local community. This can include parish councils, charities, development trusts, co-operatives and community interest companies (CIC).

The RCEF is a £10m programme.

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