Petrol stations fall to pre First World War levelsIndustry calls for action on closures

25 August 2007

 

There are now fewer petrol stations in the UK than at any time since before the First World War, industry figures have revealed.

Already this year 150 forecourts have closed, according to figures released by oil industry body Catalist.

This means there are now less than 9,500 forecourts in the UK, which is the lowest number of filling stations in the UK since 1912.

Unprofitable business

The Petrol Retailers Association warns the situation could become critical if the total number of forecourts continues to drop at the rate of recent years.

PRA Director Ray Holloway said: ‘Motorists could soon find it more difficult to refuel their vehicles if filling stations continue to close at the current rate.

‘Motorists are now noticing gaps in fuel availability, and if it gets worse as expected, they will certainly be inconvenienced when searching for a forecourt in some areas.

‘Closures are not just in rural areas either. Urban closures are causing equal inconvenience for motorists. Oil company outlets are being closed as fast as independents are forced out of business. Strong supermarket outlet growth since the 1990s and resulting squeeze on margin has made motor fuel retailing a very unprofitable business.’

Rate relief

The PRA says the government needs to act to save the nation’s fuel stations.

Mr Holloway added: ‘Some business rate relief is available to forecourt operators in rural areas but not in urban locations. From the evidence available they must extend this minimal support.

‘The Scottish Executive has a grants scheme available to assist forecourt retailers in Scotland with capital investment. The idea is to preserve businesses, and contribute to the continuation of fuel availability in all areas. Westminster must consider a similar scheme for England and Wales.’