Revolving Loan Fund

Cornwall Council, working with partners including Community Energy Plus (CEP), the Low Carbon Society (LCS) and Kabin (all local not for profit community based organisations), is proud to announce that the first local authority revolving loan fund is now open for applications on an ongoing basis.

Aimed exclusively at Cornish community groups, the fund is intended help capture the benefits of renewable energy within their local areas by supporting community-owned renewable energy installations. The Council believes that it is important for communities to have an opportunity to benefit from the clean energy that is needed as we move towards a low carbon society.

Revolving loan funds, once repaid, can be reinvested in future projects – hence the term ‘revolving’. These funds are attractive to local authorities and community groups alike as they give excellent value for money for the taxpayer, and provide community groups with the ability to access capital funds that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. Renewable energy is particularly good for the revolving loan model, as it creates revenue streams that can pay back any loan monies owed and also contribute to community projects.

The key driver for this fund is to challenge the way that Cornwall deals with energy, as currently around 98% of the money we spend on energy leaves Cornwall. Cornwall Council is committed to keeping a higher proportion of this money in Cornwall and supporting new ways in which renewable energy can help tackle local as well as global challenges.

We want to do this by supporting renewable energy projects that can strongly evidence how they will support sustainability, increase the resilience of our local communities, and provide strong outcomes for the people of Cornwall.

The ultimate aim is to work towards establishing ‘local energy markets’ where community-owned renewable energy can provide local income streams, where the energy generated can provide cheaper fuel bills for local residents and where the communities can decide how to prioritise these investments. 

  • Projects must represent or be part of a ‘whole area’ transformational approach for a defined community outlining how it will embrace the benefits of renewable energy on behalf of the community.
  • Funding will only be allocated capital projects i.e. building renewable energy infrastructure, rather than the cost of running projects, or community groups, once they are constructed (running costs).
  • Projects must meet the criteria and aspirations of the Green Cornwall strategy (these will be made clear at the outset of the application process).
  • Applications will only be accepted from fully constituted community groups. Applications from individuals will not be accepted.
  • All applications must strongly evidence the outcomes of the project, and only projects that clearly demonstrate a community gain element which supports both further green investment and community resilience will be considered.
  • If applications include generation on domestic properties those applications will only be supported where the generation is owned by a fully constituted community group and the revenues, including any surpluses, go to the community rather than the occupier of the building. Careful consideration should also be given to ensuring that the selection of domestic properties for this purpose is transparent and equitable.
  • There is no maximum limit for an application, however, the funds available for the Revolving Loan are limited (currently £1m is available in total), and it is at the complete discretion of the fund to allocate resources to meet the best possible outcomes regardless of the size of the proposed project. Priority will be given to projects that are focused and deliverable.
  • Projects will require strong financial plans that evidence how the loans will be repaid to the Low Carbon Society. It is expected that the rates of interest will fall within the range of 6.5 - 8.5% APR, depending on the nature and risk of the project.
  • This loan fund will insist on first charge on the renewable energy installation. If match funding is being sought this must be made clear to any third party lenders.
  • Projects that are ready to go and/or have the necessary permissions in place will be given priority.

The process of applying for this fund is split into three phases that must all be dealt with successfully prior to funding being released:

  1. The first is an expression of interest (this can be downloaded below).
  2. The second is a more in-depth application form that will require robust financial and governance information to ensure that the repayment of the loan fund and the proposed outcomes for the community are realistic and can be met.
  3. The third phase will involve final scrutiny by a peer review group and the relevant Cabinet Member at Cornwall Council.

Download an Expression of Interest Form

You will be kept informed of the progress of your application at each stage of the process.

It is expected that demand for this fund will be very high and it may not be possible to support all applications from the funds available at any one time. As such, it is important that you read the guidance contained within the expression of interest and do relevant background reading especially relating to the ethos and ambitions of the Green Cornwall Strategy.

All completed expressions of interest forms should be sent to crlf@cornwall.gov.uk.

If successful, further information and instructions as to the next phases of the process will be emailed to the applicant. Phone enquiries can be made to Cornwall Council at 0300 1234 100.

i. Cornwall Council reserves the right to revise the timetable or withdraw this offer at any time.

ii. Neither the Council nor Low Carbon Society will reimburse any expense incurred by applicants in preparing applications nor is the Council or Low Carbon Society bound to select any party or award any loans at the end of this selection process.

iii. The issuing of the Expression of Interest form in no way commits the Council or the Low Carbon Society to award any loan funding.

iv. The final decision in respect of the successful applicants remains a decision of the Council at its absolute discretion.

v. Cornwall Council reserves the right to revise the terms and conditions of this offer at any time.