Applecross Community Filling Station
The Applecross filling station is community-owned and run by volunteers. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It provides a vital service to the community - the nearest alternative is in Lochcarron, a long trip over the Bealach na Ba.
It is well used by local people, but with a population of just 200 we need to sell to visitors in significant numbers to ensure that we can continue to offer fuel at as reasonable a price as possible. We do all we can to ensure that the price of our fuel is competitive and it is often cheaper than other filling stations in the area. We have no wages to pay, but our substantial running costs include insurance, card charges, broadband and telephone, accountancy, electricity, maintenance, licensing and inspection costs. The more fuel we sell, the more easily we can cover these costs and reduce the margin added to our fuel.
A brief history of the Applecross filling station:
The filling station has belonged to the community since it was built in 1993 after a campaign by the Community Council. Initially it was run by the owners of the privately owned grocery shop opposite. Subsequently, in 2009, we formed Applecross Community Company to take on the filling station and refurbish it, replacing the twenty year old pumps with new ones operated from an outside payment terminal accepting credit and debit cards. This is the only viable option, as the filling station will never make enough profit to pay someone to man it. Funding from the Big Lottery Fund, the Scotland Rural Development Programme and the Applecross Trust, with contributions from local people and visitors, enabled the £41,000 refurbishment to go ahead in June 2010. It is the first fully automated site in the country (others have staff in attendance at some point each day).
The initial sum of £17,000, which allowed us to buy our first tanks of fuel, was raised entirely through the efforts of the community. We walked over the Bealach na Ba from the filling station in Lochcarron to our own (over 18 miles) and invited visitors to guess for £1 the number of steps it would take. The answer is 36,463 and the nearest guess won a weekend in Applecross. This raised almost £5,000.
We also received support from the Applecross Games, and the rest was raised through donations, loans and subscriptions from local people, “Friends” of the Company and other visitors. We have received a lot of support from tourism based businesses and local tradesmen.
In the long term it is hoped that the community micro-hydro scheme will help pay for further developments at the filling station; perhaps in the future to include electric cars run on our own renewable energy???