Energy minister Michael Fallon was the keynote speaker at a forum today set up by the PRA to assess how the decline in independent forecourt operators can be arrested.

The Regeneration Forum was attended by leading members of the forecourt sector, 11 MPs in addition to the minister and staff of several other MPs, and senior Whitehall officials.

Top of the agenda of issues to be tackled was the change in the make-up of the market, with the supermarket forecourts approaching half of the sales volume with only a fraction of the sites, while independent site numbers have been in a long-term decline.

Proposals to enable independents to compete more effectively with the supermarkets included moving the duty excise point to the dispenser, introduction of rural rates relief and a fundamental re-evaluation of rateable values, planning safeguards to ensure new supermarket petrol stations do not disadvantage existing petrol filling stations, and issues over the cost of processing bank and fuel cards.