There has been a dramatic decline in the number of independent forecourts across the south west and north of England, the PRA has warned.

Figures show that in just five years, key counties have seen a 20% reduction in the number of smaller petrol filling stations.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson said this is a cause for concern for both consumers and the local businesses which are often family owned and operated, and that have had to close with the loss of local jobs and amenities.

He added: “South-west counties including Devon, Somerset and Wiltshire and Yorkshire have seen a worrying reduction in forecourts over the past few years resulting in emerging rural fuel deserts. People living in rural areas will find travelling ever more expensive as they drive further to fill up fuel.

“Last week the PRA hosted a regeneration forum organised in conjunction with the Department of Energy and Climate Change which highlighted major issues, including Government policies such as unfair business rates and heavy taxation on fuel deliveries which are contributing to the continuing trend of closures in the independent sector.”

The decline comes despite an upsurge in the number of independent petrol retailers across Europe as the major oil companies have been selling off many forecourt sites, according to the latest research from global real estate advisor CBRE.

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