Army tanker drivers may be drafted in to help tackle the ongoing fuel crisis.

Military drivers will be put on a state of readiness in preparation for possible deployment, ministers have confirmed.

The move comes after days of long queues outside forecourts across the country as pumps ran dry.

Although there is no shortage of fuel, a lack of HGV drivers has made it difficult getting it out to filling stations.

That reduction in deliveries combined with a wave of panic buying has seen hundreds of stations depleted of at least one type of fuel.

Military drivers will now get specialised training in case they need to be brought in to drive petrol tankers.

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, who issued the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities request, said: ‘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.’

The Army tanker drivers will deliver fuel to where it is needed most, and and provide, and provide reassurance that supplies remain strong, the Government said.

It came after a joint statement from leading suppliers, including BP, Esso and Shell, said that pressure on filling stations should start to ease with many cars now carrying more petrol than usual.

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 added: ‘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.

‘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 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.

He said: ‘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.’

In an attempt to alleviate the crisis, Mr Johnson announced at the weekend plans to issue 5,000 temporary three-month visas to foreign drivers.

However Edwin Atema from the Dutch FNV union, which represents hauliers across the EU, poured scorn on the idea that it would tempt enough drivers back to the UK following Brexit.

He told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘On the short-term I think that will be a dead end.

‘So more is needed, and I think the EU workers we speak to will not go to the UK for a short-term visa to help UK out of the shit they created themselves.’

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