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.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The move comes after many filling stations ran dry after drivers made a dash for the pumps amid fears a shortage of tanker drivers would hit supplies.
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.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the extension to ADR driver licences, which allow drivers to transport goods such as fuel.
The measure will apply to licences expiring between Monday and December 31, and extend their validity until January 31 2022.
“We are starting to see panic buying moderate with more grades of fuel now available at more petrol stations,” Mr Shapps said.
He added: “Even though the current network of tanker drivers is capable of delivering all the fuel we need we have taken the additional step of asking the army to help plug the gap, whilst new HGV drivers come on stream thanks to all the other measures we’ve already taken.”
Earlier, 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.