A CO-OPERATIVE which will blaze a trail for renewable energy has launched in Hampshire.

Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative Limited (HREC), which will be known as the Hampshire Energy Group (HEG), has been formed to maximise community ownership of new renewable energy generation in the county, and to provide information about renewable energy.

Martin Heath, HREC spokes-man, said: “As one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, co-operatives are more common than most people believe.

“Co-operatives are a well-proven model for community energy ownership that is democratic, accountable and transparent.

“They are the dominant form of ownership for energy schemes in Denmark and Germany, and many successful schemes have already been set up in other parts of the UK.”

HREC will continue to campaign for the proposed wind farm at Bullington Cross and is in talks to purchase a 10 per cent share of the farm – if it gets the go-ahead – from EDF Energy Renewables. If the planning application succeeds, Hampshire residents will be given the opportunity to buy shares in the wind farm and earn a fair interest on their investment, using the co-operative model.

HREC plans to make a surplus which will be put back into the community for projects such as installing solar panels on community buildings or insulation in schools or village halls.

Mr Heath said: “Our aim is to firstly ensure that the co-op members get a decent share of the revenues generated from the wind farm and then to make sure all the surplus money is re-invested back into the local community.”

He added: “All renewable energy schemes have costs and benefits, and community ownership allows us to bring back those benefits to the county. “All the financial benefits of energy generated at the moment leave Hampshire and often go to the energy company shareholders, banker and investors outside of the UK.

“Using our model, the proposed Bullington Cross Wind Farm will allow us to improve the county’s energy usage for many years and to keep some of the financial benefits for ourselves. It will make Hampshire a cleaner and greener place to live.”

HREC aims to launch a community share prospectus in early 2014, which will allow people to buy a share in the co-operative. For more information, visit hamp|shire-energy.co.uk.