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Toucan solar energy sale to recover chunk of local council funding

The financial crisis facing a scandal-hit local authority will be partially mitigated next week when a vast portfolio of solar energy farms is sold for about £700m.

Sky News understands that Schroders Greencoat is expected to announce in the coming days that it has agreed to buy Toucan Energy, which collapsed into administration in November 2022.

The sale is expected to trigger a payout running into hundreds of millions of pounds to Thurrock Council, which invested more than £650m into it over a four-year period.

The scandal led to the resignation of the council's leader in 2022.

Industry sources estimated on Friday that the local authority was still expected to have lost more than £100m on Toucan, despite the successful sale process run by administrators Interpath Advisory and KPMG, the accountancy firm.

Sky News revealed in November that Schroders Greencoat, a subsidiary of the asset management group Schroders, was in pole position to acquire the portfolio of more than 50 solar parks.

Other bidders which had been in contention to buy the assets included GLIL and CKI, the Hong Kong-based infrastructure giant.

Thurrock's financial mishaps echo those of other councils which have invested in ill-fated private sector companies, including a significant number in the energy sector.

In recent months a number of councils have signalled that they face financial collapse, triggering cuts to local services.

Schroders and Interpath both declined to comment on Friday.