Shahida Sarwar wrote to ask whether I knew of any green grants available to improve refrigeration, and whether there were any regeneration grants going.

The former used to be available, in the form of the next-best thing to a grant, as an interest-free loan from Carbon Trust. But this has been wiped out for England (it still exists for Wales and Northern Ireland). Westminster has now put its faith into the likes of the Green Deal and the Feed-in tariff, which are not the same thing.

Shahida and her husband Shafiq have run their 500sq ft Guide Post, at Choppington in Northumberland, for 25 years with the odd tweak.

“The store is in reasonable condition,” writes Shahida. “But I think new refrigeration will provide a better shopping experience for the local community.”

She adds that about eight years ago they managed to get a grant which helped towards a new shop front, shutters, and repainting.

Which brings us to the second part of her query: regeneration grants. There are 455 local authorities in England and Wales alone and they all have their own take on where they put their money.

As this is being written Shahida is waiting for her local council to get back.

Meanwhile, I spoke to the Association of Convenience Stores and although it knew of no grants, it said it had done a deal with British Gas, offering members an energy audit to see where savings could be made in store. You would need to have your gas/electricity supplied by British Gas and be a member of ACS. Good reason to join, though.

On the other hand, C-Store readers qualify for a free audit from Npower under our Pay Less, Use Less campaign. For details email

Finally, a question for you all, barring Portas Pilots. Have you managed to get a grant from anyone, anywhere, to regenerate?