John Armstrong, who runs Isherwoods in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, is in the process of updating his serve-over deli counters and refrigeration. He will be spending about £9K on the project. He wondered whether a Carbon Trust loan would be worth the trouble as he had already contacted them twice (having filled in the forms once, which they sent him, and then, when he chased it up, being told he should have downloaded different forms from their website he feels they are not making it easy).

The chap whom John is buying from has warned him that he would have to prove the energy savings and that might wind up costing him. John's existing equipment is 25 years old so, in theory, the new equipment must use less energy, but how can he work it out?

His supplier says you might just as well get a bank loan.

John consulted me and I consulted Brian O'Hagan, whose new venture Ecomonitor I featured a couple of issues back. Brian's background is in the convenience sector and he did some stellar work on John's behalf.

Initially, he understood John's frustrations. Ecomonitor (07899 920085) helps retailers to navigate the Carbon Trust process, undertaking all the paperwork. He had engineers take a close look at John's set-up and, in the end, it isn't looking like it will be worth pursuing the Carbon Trust loan.