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Belgian service stations in red over green drive

Published on 14/04/2004

14 April 2004

BRUSSELS – A costly drive to clean up land around and under Belgian petrol service stations is set to drive 1,000 of them into bankruptcy, it was claimed Wednesday.

An estimated 1,000 forecourts will disappear due to the stiff new government regulations requiring owners to pay for the removal of poisonous chemical substances which have seeped into the soil, Chris Hoste, head of  BOFAS, a state fund set up to offer financial help to businesses in meeting the costs of the clean-up, told RTL radio.

The land renovation programme, which began in January, 2000 and is due to be complete by 2014, will cost service station businesses an estimated total of EUR 400 million, Hoste said.

The number of service stations in Belgium already showed a sharp dive in the late 1990s, primarily blamed on the introduction of fierce competition in an overcrowded business sector. Of the 5,263 forecourts open in January, 1998, only 3,686 were still in business in January 2004, according to figures from the Belgian Oil Federation.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

                     Subject: Belgian news