The energy arm of the UK retailer also announced it is now supplying 100% of its electricity from renewable sources, generated from 46 hydro power stations in Scotland.

The M&S Community Energy Fund will offer funding to not-for-profit organisations that want to use renewable energy for the benefit of their local community.

Winners of the funding will be shortlisted and then decided by a public vote, allowing locals to decide which project will have the greatest benefit to the area. The fund will aim to add to the 5,000 community energy groups currently active in the UK.

“To mark M&S Energy’s electricity going 100% green, we want to help more communities in the UK generate renewable energy and become environmentally and financially sustainable,” said Jonathan Hazeldine, head of M&S Energy.

“The M&S Community Energy Fund will enable a wide range of groups to get their projects off the ground and we’re looking forward to hearing about innovative projects that will benefit local communities across the UK.”

Plan A

M&S made the announcements as part of its move towards fulfilling its Plan A commitments at its annual Plan A 2020 Stakeholder Event.

Plan A, M&S’s sustainability programme, released its progress report last month. The update highlighted M&S had achieved carbon neutrality across all its UK activities, making it the only major retailer in the world to have carbon-neutral operations.

M&S head of Global Plan A Delivery Adam Elman said one of the firm’s main aims was making Plan A more localised and relevant to communities: “The M&S Community Energy Fund gets right to the heart of supporting our communities and provides a great opportunity for local green leaders to engage their community in the environmental and social benefits of renewable energy.”

Energy Minister Lord Bourne said: “We’re transforming the way we power homes and businesses up and down the country – boosted by initiatives like this from Marks and Spencer.”

In May this year, M&S announced it had committed to 100% renewable energy by joining the RE100 initiative. The scheme aims to help major companies source their energy from 100% renewable sources.

Matt Field

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