Many rural petrol stations are being faced with massive rate increases of between 100%-400%. The news comes from an initial review of the impact of the 2010 Rating List on rural forecourts by Barber Wadlow, in association with RMI Petrol.

The review found that rural sites had been particularly harshly treated in the 2010 Rating List and, despite reductions that were secured in January 2011, the Valuation Office Agency has not been prepared to offer any assistance. What is more, while the majority of petrol stations have seen a reduction of 10%-25% in their rateable value (RV), smaller rural sites have seen little or no real reduction and in some cases there have been increases. It is estimated that on a national basis, 200-250 rural forecourts do not benefit from rural rate relief and so are at risk of closure.

While local authorities do have the ability to provide a discretionary rural rate relief for properties with RVs up to £16,500 (£17,000 in Scotland), the review states that this level is not sufficient.

Barber Wadlow has recommended that to protect rural forecourts, the rural rate relief discount of 50% (minimum) is extended to all rural classified sites with RVs between £12,500 and £16,500. And a rural rate relief discount of 50% is extended to sites with RVs between £16,500 and £40,000.

Adam Wadlow, partner at Barber Wadlow, said: "Without the appropriate rate relief, petrol retailers will have to cease trading, or alternatively, will be incentivised to close their petrol forecourt so that the shop element of the property can be reassessed for rating purposes as a standalone shop, thereby significantly reducing the rateable value."

Brian Madderson, chairman of RMIP, said: "Rural petrol stations are often a lifeline to many rural communities and therefore must be protected."