Transport secretary Grant Shapps

The Association of Convenience stores (ACS) has written to the transport secretary Grant Shapps calling on the Government to support the UK’s forecourts with additional funding to help the expansion of the electric vehicle charging network.

In the letter, ACS outlines support for an incentive-led approach to EV expansion in line with consumer demand. Under current proposals, “large forecourts” could be required to install charging facilities, even if they’re not appropriate or necessary for that location. ACS has also called for EV charging points and their associated parking spaces to be exempt from business rates to remove another barrier to investment.

There are currently over 250 charging points located on over 150 forecourts across the UK (excluding charging points at service stations), part of a total UK network of over 12,000 charging locations in places like retail car parks, office car parks, on street locations and transport hubs.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Forecourts have an important role to play in the future of EV charging, but they are part of a wider solution that includes a number of different locations for charging – both on and off commercial premises.

“While the pace of change on EV charging is an exciting prospect, it also provides challenges for retailers that are looking to invest in an EV charging facility, as there is the risk that their solution could be rendered obsolete within a short period of time.

“It’s essential therefore that the Government supports forecourt retailers and other EV charging providers and helps them to invest in the long-term future of the charging network.”

The letter coincides with the launch of the 2020 Forecourt Report this week, which details the importance of forecourt stores to their communities, the jobs they provide locally and the services that they offer to customers.

Key figures from this year’s Forecourt Report include:

  • · there are 7,398 forecourts with shops in the UK, generating over £4.7bn in sales (excluding fuel) over the last year;
  • · over the last year, forecourts have invested an average of £25,657 per store, with 11% of forecourts investing in a full store refit;
  • · 77% of independent forecourts have engaged in some form of community activity in the last year, with one in five (20%) donating to a local food bank; and
  • · the UK forecourt sector provides over 91,000 local, flexible and secure jobs.

Lowman continued: “Forecourts have faced a number of challenges over the last year, especially with the drop in fuel sales during lockdown, but in response to these challenges they have stepped up to offer new services and a wider range of groceries to keep their communities going. Forecourts are leading community retailers in their own right, making significant investment to improve their businesses and providing thousands of secure local jobs.”

The full 2020 Forecourt Report is available here: