Fewer petrol stations now than in 1912

22 August 2007

There are now less than 9500 petrol forecourts in the UK - that's the lowest number since 1912, according to the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA).

The PRA says motorists could soon have trouble finding somewhere to fill their car with fuel if the current rate of closures continues.

150 petrol stations have already closed this year, according to figures from oil industry body Catalist.

The PRA says the situation could become critical if the number forecourts continues to drop at the current rate.

Ray Holloway, director of the PRA, said: 'Closures are not just in rural areas. Urban closures are causing equal inconvenience for motorists. Oil company outlets are being closed as fast as independents are forced out of business.'

The cause is clear, too, says Holloway: 'Strong supermarket outlet growth since the 1990s and the resulting squeeze on margins have made motor fuel retailing a very unprofitable business.'

To stem the closures, the PRA believes action from the Government is now vital: 'Structure plans developed by local authorities must allow for maintenance of essential services such as forecourts.

'Some business-rate relief is available to forecourt operators in rural areas, but not in urban locations. This support must be extended.'

The PRA also wants to see a grant scheme available to retailers in England and Wales similar to the one offered by the Scottish Executive.

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