Army tanker drivers will be put on a state of readiness in preparation for deployment to ease the chaos on fuel supply chains, the Government has announced in the face of mounting pressure.
Military drivers will now get specialised training in preparation for their possible deployment, ministers announced on Monday.
An extension to ADR driver licences permitting drivers to maximise their available capacity instead of being taken out of circulation for refresher training purposes was also announced.
READ MORE: Woman sparks outrage by advertising petrol for sale on Stockport Facebook group
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The men and women of our Armed Forces stand ready to alleviate the transport pressures where they are felt most.
“That is why I have authorised their increased preparedness so they are ready to respond if needed.”
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added: “While the fuel industry expects demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days, it’s right that we take this sensible, precautionary step.
“The UK continues to have strong supplies of fuel, however we are aware of supply chain issues at fuel station forecourts and are taking steps to ease these as a matter of priority.
“If required, the deployment of military personnel will provide the supply chain with additional capacity as a temporary measure to help ease pressures caused by spikes in localised demand for fuel.”
Demand for petrol should return to normal levels in the coming days, the fuel industry has said.
In a joint statement, leading suppliers, including BP, Esso and Shell, said that with many cars now carrying more petrol than usual, pressure on filling stations should start to ease.
In their joint statement, issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the industry urged drivers to return to normal buying patterns.
“There is plenty of fuel at UK refineries and terminals, and as an industry we are working closely with the Government to help ensure fuel is available to be delivered to stations across the country,” it said.
“As many cars are now holding more fuel than usual, we expect that demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days, easing pressures on fuel station forecourts.
“We would encourage everyone to buy fuel as they usually would.”
Environment Secretary George Eustice meanwhile blamed motorists for filling up when they did not need to after days of lengthy queues at petrol stations.
“There isn’t a shortage (of fuel). The cause of these current problems is that panic-buying episode and the most important thing is for people to start buying petrol as they normally would,” he said.
“There does come a point, as we saw during a previous episode of panic buying during the pandemic on food, where things settle down and people get used to it, and return to life as normal again.
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“The sooner people do that the better.
“The only reason we don’t have petrol on the forecourts is that people are buying petrol when they don’t need to.”
Despite the reassurances, doctors’ leaders urged ministers to to give healthcare staff priority access to fuel.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of council at the British Medical Association (BMA), said essential services could be hit if staff could not get to work because they were unable to fill up.
“Everyone will have their own reasons for needing to fill up, but as pumps run dry there is a real risk that NHS staff won’t be able to do their jobs and provide vital services and care to people who urgently need it,” he said.