A LOANS scheme is being launched by a new Hampshire community bank to help more firms turn green.

The scheme will help businesses working in environmental technology, low-carbon energy production and sustainable design, engineering and construction.

Future Solent has teamed up with Local First Community Interest Company, Eastleigh Borough Council and the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce to set up the Green Growth Business Loans Scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The loans are a key step towards Hampshire Community Bank enterprise, which is set to open in March next year and will be the culmination of more than a year’s work. It is based on the independent, locally-managed German bank model, known as ‘sparkassen’.

A £950,000 fund is open to borrowers who can match-fund the loan, demonstrate that their project will create jobs and who are operating with or funding green projects.

Rates will start at 3.5 per cent and businesses can submit an expression of interest. Richard Hall, who is overseeing the loans project, said: “The green projects can be anything that is going to reduce your energy bill.

“We will have a relationship with local businesses that will help the Hampshire economy. By keeping money here you set up a revolving fund.”

Mr Hall believes that it will be of benefit to the whole of the Hampshire area once it gets off the ground.

He said: “It’s one of the best and most exciting projects in Hampshire for a long time and there’s local interest in it already.

“The planning started last October and we have just received a commitment from a number of local authorities to finance and set up the bank.

“We have to go through due diligence and make sure we are doing it properly. By issuing loans it proves that we have got the systems in place.”

Mr Hall said that the advantage of the venture is that he will be able to personally communicate with businesses in the area, rather than dealing with customers at a distance.

For more information or to download an expression of interest form visit futuresolent.org.uk or call Mr Hall on 07770 605664.