Army tanker drivers have been put on standby in preparation to deliver fuel in order to ease the chaos at petrol stations, the Government has announced in the face of mounting pressure.
Military drivers will get specialised training in preparation for their deployment while certain HGV licences will be extended to help tackle the issue.
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At a glance: 5 key points
- The Army tanker drivers will deliver fuel to where it is needed most and provide reassurance that supplies remain strong, the Government said
- 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
- 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
- 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
What’s been said
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, 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.”
In an attempt to alleviate the crisis, Boris Johnson announced at the weekend plans to issue 5,000 temporary three-month visas to foreign drivers.
Emergency measures were also triggered on 26 September with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng choosing to suspend competition laws for the fuel industry to allow suppliers to target filling stations running low.
But shadow defence secretary John Healey said the move is an “admission of failure from a Government that continues to rely on the Army to bail it out”.
Environment Secretary George Eustice meanwhile blamed motorists for filling up when they did not need to after days of lengthy queues at petrol stations.
Doctors’ leaders are now urging 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.
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