Woolies fires first shot in fuel war for Ballina

By DAWN COHEN

WOOLWORTHS vowed to bring cheaper fuel to Ballina yesterday, after winning council backing for a Petrol Plus station at the Tinkerbell shopping centre development.

However, Ron Bowden, CEO of the Australian Service Station Association, warns the relief may be temporary.

The Kerr Street development was unanimously approved with a swathe of de- ferment conditions aimed at reducing traffic congestion.

Woolworths spokesperson Bob Ingram told council the project would lower fuel costs.

Ballina petrol costs about $200 a year more than in the rest of Northern Rivers, a Northern Star investigation has found.

"Prices are often cheaper initially," Mr Bowden said, responding to Petrol Plus coming to Ballina. "But when other businesses fold, the cost goes up again."

Woolworths spokeswoman Claire Buchanan would not guarantee permanent low prices.

However, she denied the chain's discount strategy was aimed at driving other operators out of business.

Lennox Head and Alstonville petrol stations would be also hit by a fuel discounting war, Lennox Head Motors owner Brian Garrett said.

Graham Gough, managing director of Ampol Collect in Lennox Head, East Ballina and Alstonville, said Petrol Plus would force at least some local businesses under.



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