“We are unfortunately seeing panic buying of fuel inmany areas of the country,” Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) told Reuters on Monday. He called on people to refrain from the fuel-buying frenzy. “We need some calm… if people drain the network then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he said.
The PRA, which represents independent fuel retailers who now account for 65% of all UK forecourts, said their members had reported widespread shortages with between 50-90% of pumps running dry in some areas.
Balmer’s comments come just days after the government dismissed any talk of fuel shortages and said Britons should go about buying fuel as usual. However, the government’s remarks were not heeded as queues formed outside petrol stations across the country throughout the weekend. Many stations were forced to close as eager motorists queued up for fuel.
On Monday, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the government would not be calling on the army to deliver fuel to dry fuel stations across the country. “We’ve no plans at the moment to bring in the army to actually do driving,” Eustice stated, but added Ministry of Defence trainers were being drafted to clear a backlog of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driving tests.
Fuel shortages have been linked to a dearth of HGV drivers as forecourts have struggled to get deliveries on time. While the government is attempting to get Britons to become HGV drivers, on Sunday Westminster announced an extension to the state’s visa scheme. Now, 5,000 HGV drivers will be able to work in the UK for three months in the run-up to Christmas, relieving supply chain pressure.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth carried out her first official engagement on Tuesday since spending a night in hospital and being ordered to rest by her doctors.