Is there a fuel shortage? Why petrol and diesel is running out on UK forecourts amid 2021 lorry driver crisis

Transport secretary Grant Shapps says there is "no shortage of fuel" and people should be "sensible" when filling up at the pump

Long queues of traffic snaking onto main roads near filling stations and coned off forecourts have become a regular sight around the UK.

Many motorists have filled up - or attempted to - on petrol and diesel over the weekend amid fears of running out, a national fuel shortage and lorry driver crisis.

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Transport secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday that there is "no shortage of fuel" and people should be "sensible" when filling up at the pump.

Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, meanwhile, said the haulage industry had been warning for months about the shortage of drivers, but ministers had simply ignored them.

Here’s all you need to know.

Is there a fuel shortage in the UK?

Ministers have consistently said there is no shortage of fuel supplies in the UK at a time when filling stations across the country are running out of petrol and diesel.

In an interview with Andrew Marr, transport secretary Grant Shapps said he had checked fuel stock levels with the six refineries and 47 storage centres in the country.

While there may not be a national shortage of fuel, there is a clear shortage of fuel at the pump.

The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent fuel retailers in the UK, said between 50% and 90% of its members’ pumps were dry in some areas.

Why is fuel running out on UK forecourts?

Instead of there being a fuel shortage nationally, it appears that the problems have arisen due to a lack of HGV (heavy good vehicle) drivers to transport the fuel to the forecourts.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, took aim at the Road Haulage Association (RHA) for an "irresponsible briefing" with the press which sparked a "rush on petrol stations".

A spokesperson for the Road Haulage Association denied leaking comments about HGV driver shortages at fuel firms, however, following reports in the Mail on Sunday.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves blamed "an out-of-touch and complacent government" for ignoring problems raised months ago by the RHA regarding lorry driver shortages.

What is being done about fuel shortages at filling stations?

To plug the gap and end the current fuel crisis, the government is offering 5,000 lorry drivers temporary visas to work in the UK between now and Christmas Eve.

It is also offering 5,500 poultry workers UK visas.

Examiners from the Ministry of Defence will be recruited to increase the number of tests that can be carried out for prospective HGV drivers over the next three months.

Nearly one million letters have been sent to drivers with HGV licences, urging them to return to the industry, while additional staff recruitment will begin in October 2021.

Will government measures end the fuel crisis at forecourts?

A spokesperson from the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) said it wasn’t just a question of moving supplies to the filling stations as drivers had to load up their tanks at the gantry at the terminal, which was a skilled job.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson said: "There has been training going on in the background for military personnel.

“But that’s perhaps just confined to moving the tanker by articulated truck from point A to point B.

“One of the difficulties is loading, and the tanker drivers currently load their own tanks at the gantry at the terminals, and then most are providing the delivery to the forecourt.

“This is a skilled job and we will be working with Government and industry to see how we can best move it forward.”

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