Plans announced for petrol site in Arrowtown

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Petrol pumps are set to return to Arrowtown. 

Mobil removed its pumps from the town in 2007 and Auckland-based Makaraka Estate, which subsequently bought the Shaw’s Garage site, announced plans for a $2.6 million development but couldn’t get it over the line. 

Now, Mountain Scene can reveal Dunedin-based RD Petroleum is in talks with neighbours of a bare site on the corner of 

Wiltshire and Berkshire Streets – opposite Shamrock Motors, the old Shaw’s Garage – where it plans to install an unmanned fuelling station. 

A resource consent application’s imminent. 

RD Petroleum’s chairman Les Wilson says his company’s mission has been to return petrol – something he says is an essential service – to South Island communities. 

They’ve managed to do that in 15 towns so far. 

The company – majority-owned by Wilson Holdings, a company associated with Wilson and his family, and 49 per cent owned by BP Oil New Zealand – already owns pumps in places such as Te Anau, Tarras, Ranfurly, Kurow and Hyde. 

“That’s been the backbone of our operations right from day one,” Wilson says. 

Generally, Arrowtowners – who are forced to drive to Queenstown or further afield to fuel up – have been supportive of the move, he says. 

“For those who live in Arrowtown it’s quite inconvenient and time-consuming going through the process to get fuel.” 

However, locals will still have their say – the consent application will be publicly notified. 

Wilson says the fact technology has evolved to the point where pumps can be unmanned – 24-hour sites operated by card payments – has made petrol pumps in small towns commercially viable. 

The total cost to install pumps in Arrowtown, including consent planning, design and landscaping, should be between $400,000 and $500,000. 

In a nod to the historic town’s heritage character, the company’s spending extra money to put the tanks underground. 

“There’s no guarantees here – it’s a calculated risk,” Wilson says. 

“But we’re confident the site will be well-used by the locals and the travelling public. It’s still a risk, though. 

“We could go and spend that money in other locations but we feel Arrowtown justifies the investment.” 

Arrowtown councillor Lex Perkins says: “Here’s hoping it will go through the hurdles and be granted a licence to operate.” 

RD Petroleum’s core business is distributing and selling bulk storage fuel in rural areas and to commercial customers like golf clubs. 

Last year’s census puts Arrowtown’s population at 2445 people – up 13.7 per cent on 2006. 

The population of the historic tourist town swells in summer with crib owners and campers, not to mention the many day visitors arriving by bus. 

According to the census, the town’s biggest employers are the accommodation and food services industry and construction firms. 

About a fifth of Arrowtowners were born overseas, the census says.