Great Britain

UK troops could be deployed to help tackle fuel shortage chaos

Sky News' Trevor Phillips quizzes Grant Shapps on HGV shortage

The current shortage of HGV drivers has seen supermarket shelves left empty and long queues for petrol at forecourts. The Ministry of Defence has already been enlisted to help with a mass HGV driver licences scheme. The UK's Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Friday said there was a backlog of 40,000 lorry drivers waiting to take their tests across the nation.

The hold-up was due to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) being prevented from conducting tests during lockdown.

The coronavirus crisis has hit the two driving test agencies, the DVSA and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), with staff unable to conduct live tests because of lockdown conditions.

Now Mr Shapps has said that he will not rule out bringing in British Army drivers to ease the situation.

He insisted the Government would do “whatever is required to alleviate the fuel crisis.

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The UK is gripped by a shortage of HGV drivers

The UK is gripped by a shortage of HGV drivers (Image: GETTY)

Speaking on LBC Mr Shapps said soldiers could be deployed across “a wide range of different things, from of course helping to test, to helping to drive” vehicles.

The minister also told BBC Breakfast: “With regards to things like whether there’s a role for the military, obviously if there is, if that can actually help, we will bring them in.”

Mr Shapps added: “There will be technicalities as to whether they can immediately switch over to commercial trucks and so on, there could be other roles for them such as in driver testing and training. I am ruling nothing out.”

The minister also told BBC Breakfast: “With regards to things like whether there’s a role for the military, obviously if there is, if that can actually help, we will bring them in.”

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The UK is gripped by a shortage of HGV drivers

The UK is gripped by a shortage of HGV drivers (Image: GETTY)

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph a road haulage industry insider said: “There has been talk of bringing in the Army to drive fuel tankers.

"But the simplest solution would be to deploy the Army to the DVLA to sort out the applications.

“So many of the drivers cannot get out there just because the pieces of paper they need to get out on the road are in a DVLA in-tray.

"It sounds silly and it sounds flippant, but sometimes the biggest problems in the world have the simplest solutions.”

The UK is gripped by a shortage of HGV drivers

The UK is gripped by a shortage of HGV drivers (Image: GETTY)

In response, a DVLA spokesperson said: "We are prioritising HGV provisional licence applications which are being issued in around two weeks.

"More complex transactions for example if medical investigations are needed as part of a driving licence application may face longer delays.

“There are delays in processing paper applications due to the impact of recent industrial action and social distancing requirements.

"This means that we have fewer staff than usual on-site.

“Once a driver has submitted their application, they may be able to continue to drive while we are processing it, provided they have not been told by their doctor or optician they should not drive.”

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