Petrol station numbers fall

* 9000 fuel stations * compared with 21,000 in 1991 * 'Fuel deserts' created, says report...

Petrol station numbers fall

A drastic fall in the number of UK filling stations has created 'fuel deserts' leaving motorists with nowhere to buy petrol.

There are now fewer than 9000 fuel stations in Britain, down from 21,000 20 years ago.

Conversely, the same period has seen a 50% increase in the amount of cars on the road resulting in 31 million cars battling for space at the nation's pumps.

Torridge in Devon is the worst-affected area with 11,300 cars per petrol station, while eight out of the top 10 busiest areas are located in the south.

The findings come from the Palmer and Harvey Forecourt report, and chief executive Chris Etherington says the disappearance of filling stations is due to many different reasons.

'Fuel deserts have been created across the country due to a number of factors volatile fuel prices, an uncertain economy and unfavourable exchange rates, not to mention a changing retail landscape, fluctuating land prices and supply chain costs,' he said.

However, the Retail Motor Industry's petrol chairman, Brian Madderson, feels the fall in fuel station numbers is down to the rise of supermarkets selling cheap petrol.

'Tesco has ousted BP as the number one fuel supplier,' he said. 'In the past 12 years the supermarket share of the industry has risen from 20% to 40%.'

He says that supermarkets are subsidising fuel costs to undercut rivals and he urged consumers to shop with their local station to ensure their future.

'Support your local fuel station because once it's gone, it's gone.'

Top 10 busiest fuel stations

1. Torridge, Devon (11,300 cars per petrol station)
2. Slough, Berkshire (10,200 cars per petrol station)
3. Rushmoor, Hampshire (10,100 cars per petrol station)
4. Broadland, Norfolk (9900 cars per petrol station)
5. Maldon, Essex (9200 cars per petrol station)
6. Rochford, Essex, (7500 cars per petrol station)
7. Adur, West Sussex, (7200 cars per petrol station)
8. Oadby and Wigston, Leicestershire, (7100 cars per petrol station)
9. South Norfolk (6600 cars per petrol station)
10. Clackmannanshire, Central Scotland (6500 cars per petrol station)