The issue of how we sustain rural communities is one of the most fascinating aspects both of my job, but also the many people who work on a local level to assist communities like Kielder and the rural area around Bellingham, Wark and the far west of the County. Sustainability is an oversued word but without a key range of vital community services, one of which is the provision of fuel, these communities struggle. I would dearly have liked a cut in the fuel duty in the budget but know that access to a petrol pump is ever more important.
Thus, the formal re-opening of the petrol station in Kielder Village, which takes place this Friday is a great team effort by so many who should be applauded: it means that the 180 local residents, hundreds of thousands of tourists and large rural businesses based there, such as Northumbrian Water and the Forestry Commission, no longer need to complete a 35 mile round trip to get fuel.
The project has cost £90,000 and a lot of long hours of effort. It is clearly a resounding success and the newly opened un-staffed station, run by a local community group, is thought to be the only one of its kind in England.
The previous station closed in 2008 and it has been an amazing community effort to ensure it reopens. On the announcement, Steve Webb, the owner of Kielder Village Store and Post Office said: “The positive impact this will have on the whole area must not be underestimated. We are now able to offer the local resident, business or visitor as seven day a week fuel supply. The saved time, mileage and confidence to travel around the area knowing Kielder has fuel again is very comforting. Well done to all who made it happen.”
The petrol station will not be staffed so customers pay by credit or debit card prior to filling up. It is 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 the year.
Funding for the ground breaking project has come from Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group (NULAG) – LEADER, Kielder Limited, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and Northumberland County Council through its social enterprise and regeneration services. Forecourt Solutions from County Durham carried out the building work to get the petrol station up and running again and Lloyds TSB invested in the project.
There is now even more reason to visit Kielder Water & Forest Park: it is the largest forest in England and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe. It has accomodation and food for every taste and wallet, and is a truly tranquil landscape -rightly recognised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England as our most tranquil spot in this land.
For more information go to www.visitkielder.com, but more importantly Book Now!