Following the success of last year’s scheme, which saw 246 applications from a wide variety of groups and a total of 51,000 votes cast, the M&S Energy fund is again welcoming applicants from not-for-profit organisations that want to use renewable energy to provide community energy benefits through innovative projects.

Shortlisted entries will face a public vote which will enable customers and community members the opportunity to select the initiative they believe will offer the greatest benefit.

M&S head of energy Jonathan Hazeldine said: “It’s been fantastic to see so many innovative and inspirational projects benefit from the 2015 M&S Energy Community Energy Fund. We’re excited to begin search for more groups who can really make a difference to their local communities.

“As a 100% green energy provider, supporting those who share our vision of a sustainable future through renewable energy is really important to our company, our customers and our colleagues.”

The M&S Energy Community Energy Fund will award regional funding prizes for projects across the UK that require a maximum of £12,500, subject to a public vote. The most innovative schemes that do not win through the public vote will be award a Judges’ Prize of £20,000.

Applications are now open and will close on 31 May. Entries will be shortlisted by a panel including M&S, SSE, Energyshare and an independent judge. Projects evaluated on their social and environmental impact on a list of criteria such as having a clear business case that gives value for money and a measurable community benefit. The public vote will open on 5 September and closes on 9 October.

Plan A

The M&S Energy Community Energy Fund forms part of the company’s on-going sustainability programme, Plan A, which strives to tackle key sustainable retail challenges. Last month, M&S made an industry-leading commitment to support and improve the environmental sustainability of the fishing sector by signing up to the UK’s Responsible Fishing Scheme.

Last October, M&S announced the launch of a nationwide food redistribution scheme which will see 150 of the supermarket’s biggest stores pass surplus food onto a host of local charities. And earlier this year, M&S announced it wanted to build on retail sustainability plan by fitting out its entire UK estate with LED lighting by 2025.

George Ogleby

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