London Green Fund not backing community-led projects

Delegates in charge of handling the £100m London Green Fund have not found any commercially viable community-led projects to invest in, questioning revealed yesterday at City Hall.

The fund was set up in 2009 to invest in projects in the capital with a positive impact on the environment and it is hoped that returns from the loans and investments can then be reinvested into future schemes.

The Assembly’s Health and Environment Committee heard that so far about 20% of the fund, which must be invested by the end of 2015, had been allocated and that other projects were still under consideration.

However, Andrew Page, a partner at fund managers Foresight Group said that community-led or financed projects were not a commercial proposition.

“We see little, if any opportunity for investing in community based projects,” said Page.

“I think it is disappointing. If you look at windfarm assets in Scandinavia there are some good examples of very simple community-led projects and we would like to see more of this, but our job is to deploy the funds in relation to the Mayor’s strategy and mandate.”

London Waste and Recycling Board chief operating officer Wayne Hubbard added: “While we do welcome schemes that are community based, we haven’t had a community-based scheme that was fundable to date.”

Health and Environment Committee chair Murad Qureshi said:

“It’s a great disappointment that more community-led schemes have not benefitted from the London Green Fund and I would call on any community group with a commercially viable scheme to get in touch and make their case.

Carbon Management head Tim Pryce said that fund managers could take a more active role in developing and nurturing projects rather than just funding projects that meet a particular threshold.

“Hand holding from fund managers, who actually add value to the project by providing essential expertise, could help educate and train communities to develop investable community-based projects that could potentially stand on their own two feet,” he said.

The European Regional Development Fund are providing £50m of the investment, while £32m comes from the former London Development Agency and the remaining £18m from the London Waste and Recycling Board.

A total of £85m has been allocated to two funds, investing in waste management and energy efficiency projects. The private sector must match the £85m, of which £75m has been achieved so far.

A plastics recycling centre and a bio-gas plant has received £11.5m of funding, and £19.8m has been loaned to a public art gallery for energy efficiency works.

Qureshi said: “While it’s too early to say how successful the London Green Fund will be, with £100m to invest, the fund could make a big difference to some very worthwhile projects. Our Committee will continue to monitor the progress of the scheme over the coming years.”

Conor McGlone

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie