North Skye shop could lose out on green fund after asking for too little

Nancy Bell runs the Glendale Shop

A postmistress in north Skye who is seeking £2,300 of environmental funding for her business could lose out because the amount she has asked for is too little.

Nancy Bell, who runs the Glendale Shop and Post Office, fears small retailers like hers will not benefit from the scheme.

Earlier this month she applied for the Islands Green Recovery Programme Refill Fund through the government-backed organisation Zero Waste Scotland.

The fund has been set up for island retailers to allow them to introduce reusable options in-store and eradicate wasteful packaging.

However, last week Nancy’s application for £2,300 was rejected.

Nancy told the Free Press: “I didn’t spot the bit in the application form which said the project had to cost between £10,000 and £100,000.
“I had asked for around £2,300 – and they came back to say thank you for the effort but you need to ask for more.”

Speaking late last week, Nancy said she was trying to adapt her application in time for the deadline which was due to fall yesterday (Wednesday 25th).

She said: “They have given me another week to put in a revised application to come up with a refit for the shop which is cost-effective and still works for us.

“Even three weeks was a challenge for the initial application, so this is a bit more ambitious to get a bigger scheme together in just one week.”

Nancy said reusable cups for the shop’s coffee machine were one of the things she was considering introducing as part of the scheme. Another would involve a change to soft drink sales.

She added: “We have a drinks chiller at the front but were looking at introducing a bar/restaurant-style system where fizzy drinks come from mixer taps.

“If we could get something like that, we would be saving not just on bottles but also the water used for these which is transported around the country and is another waste.

“That is quite a big investment, though, so I wouldn’t be able to consider that without a grant.”

Zero Waste Scotland has said it will administer a total of £600,000 in grant funding provided by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund to empower island shops to take the next steps in the war on waste by ditching single-use packaging and moving to reusable options.

It says that the new scheme would see cash made available to existing small and medium-sized enterprises in the isles to make the transition to package free dispensers.

However, Ms Bell contended that the process was far from straightforward.
“My shop is so small, it is not just about fitting in the new stuff but also about moving everything else around so I don’t lose the things that I sell which enables me to pay staff and support the local community,” she said.

“We have tried to do what we can within our budget. We do glass milk bottles for people, we have dispensing units for refills for washing up liquid and laundry liquid.

“There are things that I have looked at that we can do, and so if they had just given us that money I applied for then I would have been really happy!”

The scheme opened on 20th October, but Nancy stressed that wasn’t a great deal of time for small business owners like her.

“It sounds like a lot of time but when you are running a shop it isn’t very long. We had to get three different quotes for some of these things,” she said.

“I’m in the shop five and a half days a week — and my afternoons off have been spent on the phone and the internet scoping out possible projects. I don’t really have the extra time it takes to do it.”

She added: “If I can’t come out with a scheme then we don’t get anything is my understanding at the moment.

“I know it is worth putting a bit of effort in, though, because if it does work I can really make a difference to the shop and the environment.”