Fruit grower builds 'biggest solar energy system of its kind'

A horticultural co-operative has installed the 'biggest solar energy system of its kind' at its headquarters in Kent after it received a £780,000 'green loan'.

Working with UK growers and overseas partners, Berry Gardens is the largest grower-owned horticulture co-operative in the UK.

The co-op, located in Linton, near Maidstone, said the money allowed it to construct 3,600 solar panels covering over 6,000m2 - significantly reducing its footprint.

Nick Allen, CEO of Berry Gardens said the investment to reduce its environmental impact of its production was 'essential'.

The company went to HSBC UK for support and managed to obtain an Asset Purchase Green Loan worth £780,000.

"We estimate that the new solar array will provide enough energy to satisfy the demand of 237 four-bed houses for a year and will take 292,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year,” Mr Allen said.

Rob King, head of sustainability at HSBC UK, added that the bank was increasingly seeing companies wanting to invest in low carbon technology.

The green loan offering is available to large corporates, mid-market enterprises and SMEs looking to secure funding for sustainable activities.

The location comprises of a 993KW Solar Array with over 3,600 solar panels covering 6,143m2

It is available for a minimum loan of £300,000, enabling businesses to access finance to support their sustainability projects.

Mr King said: "This loan helps Berry Gardens to generate a significant percentage of the energy it uses and reduces its carbon footprint significantly, making the business one of the UK’s leaders in sustainable fruit production.

“The project further strengthens Berry Gardens’ sustainability credentials at a time when many large buyers are now setting publicly disclosed sustainability targets for their supply chain.”

Established in 1972, Berry Gardens has 45 members, providing retailers with a year-round supply of soft fruit and berries.

Source: Farming UK