Residents of England’s most remote village are celebrating plans to re-open the area’s only local petrol station, which was shut down in 2008.
The news is a welcome relief to those living in Kielder Village who have spent the last four years having to complete a 35-mile round trip to get fuel after the petrol station was forced to close because of high running costs.
Steve Webb, who runs Kielder Village Store, said: “Fantastic news – this will most certainly change our lives. Most people expect to be able to fill up on their doorstep as normality but we have just had to manage.
“This will be a major asset for villagers and tourists alike. Without the efforts of Kielder Limited and Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust this wouldn’t have happened and we would have been just another statistic, another rural business lost.
“But there was so much determination from core members who were relentlessly dedicated and to them we are incredibly thankful for making this happen.”
The £90,000-project to re-open the petrol station will start early in the New Year. Some 180 residents of Kielder Village, hundreds of thousands of tourists and large rural businesses with bases in Kielder Water & Forest Park – such as Northumbrian Water and the Forestry Commission – will be able to fill up at the pumps come spring 2012.
Tom Grimwood, chair of Kielder Limited, a volunteer run community charity that will manage the petrol station, said: “It has been long road trying to achieve our goal of re-opening Kielder Petrol Station, with lots of hard work around the feasibility of this project and in particular, when sourcing funding. It is very important we get this right and ensure the business is sustainable so this time round it is open for good.”
The petrol station, thought to be the only one of its kind in England, will be an un-manned station, run by a local community group, where customers will pay by credit or debit card prior to filling up. It will be open for fuel from 7am to 7pm (with longer opening hours during the summer) seven days a week. There will also be an electric hook up point later in year.
Elisabeth Rowark, director of Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, said: “The closure had come at a devastating time because investment in tourism was really beginning to take off. Capital development projects including new mountain biking trails and the Lakeside Way, a trail that encircles the shoreline of Kielder Water, had begun and in the last three years have dramatically increased visitor numbers to the area.
“But a lot of tourists were caught short. They ran out of petrol and had to be rescued by the police. This is excellent news for the local community and for the hoards of visitors who come to enjoy activities, star gazing, wildlife and events in this spectacular part of Northumberland.”
Tom added: “The original petrol station had staffing costs and could only open from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, but the new un-manned pumps mean that opening times will be increased and the service will be much improved.”
Funding for the ground-breaking project has come from Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group – LEADER, Kielder Limited, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, Northumberland County Council Social Enterprise and Northumberland County Council West Area Committee.