Article By : David Rudland
January 13, 2021
Conference 2020

David Rudland’s presentation introduces the EPUK guide “Before you Dig, What’s
beneath your Feet? – Garages and Filling Stations” prepared by a group of EPUK volunteers
and aimed at non-specialist developers considering re-purposing former garage or petrol
station sites. In the UK there is general agreement amongst the political parties that sale of
new petrol and diesel-powered cars will be phased out by the middle of the 21st century. This is
being driven by air quality concerns, climate change pressures and the development of new
technology. Currently 2035 is the target date. As a consequence, hydrocarbons will eventually
become the “alternative fuel” in world transported by electric, hydrogen or other types of
vehicle, and it is predicted that the number of “traditional” petrol forecourts will decrease
significantly as a result. Although we will still need dedicated sites to fuel our transport it is
likely that many current petrol forecourts will be in the wrong places and become surplus to
requirements. This in turn will release brownfield land for new uses. As many filling stations
are in urban areas these will be ideally located for new residential development. However, as
relatively small sites they may not be of interest to the more experienced developer who will
know how to tackle the often complex decommissioning and decontamination challenges they
present.

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