Almost 200 military personnel – including 100 drivers – have been undertaking training at haulier sites and will start deliveries to help relieve the fuel crisis.
The moves despite the Government earlier assuring motorists that the crisis was easing.
At-a-glance: 5 key points
- Military tanker drivers are to be deployed to deliver fuel to forecourts across the country from Monday
- It was also announced that a temporary visa scheme for foreign HGV drivers that was due to expire on December 24 will now be extended to the end of February, following criticism of the attractiveness to drivers of its length.
- The Government said 300 fuel drivers will be able to come to the UK from overseas “immediately” under a bespoke temporary visa which will last until March, and that 4,700 other visas intended for foreign food haulage drivers will be extended beyond the initially announced three months and will last from late October to the end of February.
- The Government claims that demand for fuel has stabilised and there is now more being delivered than sold, but that some parts of the country still face challenges.
- However, the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) warned that the fuel shortages are “getting worse” in some parts of the country and warned of further price rises.
What’s been said?
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay said: “The Government has taken decisive action to tackle the short-term disruption to our supply chains, and in particular the flow of fuel to forecourts.
“We are now seeing the impact of these interventions with more fuel being delivered to forecourts than sold and, if people continue to revert to their normal buying patterns, we will see smaller queues and prevent petrol stations closing.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Across the weekend over 200 military personnel will have been mobilised as part of Operation Escalin.
“While the situation is stabilising, our armed forces are there to fill in any critical vacancies and help keep the country on the move by supporting the industry to deliver fuel to forecourts.”
Fuel crisis ‘getting worse’ in parts of country
The chairman of the PRA has warned that fuel shortages are getting worse in some parts of the country.
Brian Madderson said it remains a “really big problem” in London and the South East.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “In London and the South East and possibly parts of eastern England, if anything it had got worse.”
Mr Madderson welcomed the announcement that military drivers are to be deployed from Monday, but he warned it will only have a limited impact.
“This isn’t going to be the major panacea,” he said. “It’s a large help but in terms of the volume, they are not going to be able to carry that much.
“We do need a prioritisation of deliveries to filling stations – particularly the independent ones which are the neighbourhood retail sites – in London and the South East starting immediately.”
He said rising world oil prices mean motorists should expect higher prices at the pumps when filling stations are resupplied.
“Expect anything from 1, 2 or even 3p a litre increases at the pump. This is not profiteering. This is genuine wholesale price increases causes by global factors.”
The temporary visa scheme was announced last week as panic buying hit filling stations across the UK, with a shortage of HGV drivers having affected supplies of petrol and diesel.
As well as foreign drivers, 5,500 poultry workers will also be allowed in to help keep supermarket shelves stocked with turkeys before Christmas.
The Government has said these workers will now be able to stay up to December 31.
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