Small businesses at risk if ethanol fuel goes ahead

IF THE Baird Government goes ahead with plans to scrap the exemption for small retailers from selling blended ethanol fuel, Christine Robinson says it could be the end of her business at Lanitza.

Drivers could face petrol hikes of up to 8c a litre if the Government moves to increase the sales of biofuels.

Currently, the state government mandates that major retailers must try and ensure that blended E10 petrol makes up 6% of service stations' entire output. Retailers with under 20 sites are currently exempt from this mandate.

However only 2.7% of all petrol sold in NSW is ethanol, leading the government to examine options to boost biofuel sales, a move the Lanitza Service Station co-owner fears.

"If the government turned around and told us it's mandatory (to have biofuel), we wouldn't have the finances so we would have to close," Mrs Robinson said.

"We would be looking at a new pump, we would need another tank, and they're costs we can't afford.

"If we closed, the effects on the community would be devastating."

Minnie Waters Store co-owner Drew Lewis said if there were infrastructure costs involved in providing biofuel there would be no value in selling fuel, which would have wide ranging implications.

"People would stop coming out for day trips, so it would hurt our tourism industry, and there are a lot of professional fishermen who need fuel." he said.

"If those exemptions were taken away, I think it would drive a lot of retailers like ourselves to stop selling fuel."

Lawrence General Store manager Steve McFarlane agreed, saying the removal of exemptions would be "problematic", and that the business would lose customers as a lot of people don't use biofuel.

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said the government is considering ways it could better support the ethanol mandate.

"Any decision that the government comes up with will have the consumer at the front of mind," he said.

"Our focus is on the consumer, and supporting the ethanol mandate in a way that is fair for consumer choice."

Mr Gulaptis said the biofuel industry creates jobs in regional areas, as well as reducing Australia's reliance on foreign fuel imports.

 

The scrapping of the exemption is just one measure under consideration by the NSW Government. Other measures include banning the sale of regular unleaded petrol and forcing retailers to blend ethanol with premium unleaded.

 

Two-thirds of NSW service stations are independently-owned small businesses that operate under licence with the major oil companies.



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