Police martial drivers at petrol stations as forecourts blocked after fuel shortage sparks panic buying

POLICE have been forced to martial drivers at a petrol station after huge queues blocked roads amid fuel shortage fears.

Officers were seen standing among cars as they queued at an Esso station in Northwood, London, earlier today.

Police officers were forced to martial a petrol station in Northwood, London earlier today
Officers were seen standing among the cars queuing for fuel
Rex
Traffic builds on the way into an Esso petrol station in Norfolk[/caption]

Panic-buyers have been lining up from the early hours to fill their tanks – despite the government insisting motorists “carry on as normal”.

As of Friday afternoon, between 50 and 100 BP petrol stations are affected by the loss of fuel with around 20 of the company’s 1,200 have been closed.

A “small number” of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted, Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites, said.

But hoards of drivers have been making late-night and early morning trips to stock up for fear the country’s fuel supply could completely run out due to a lack of HGV delivery drivers.

One man visited the ASDA forecourt in Eastleigh, Hampshire, at 11pm last night only to be met by 20 other cars waiting to get in.

Another motorist was one of many waiting for his local garage in Hunstanton, Norfolk, to open at 6am.

Paul Edwards
Huge queues at a petrol station in Billericay, Essex[/caption]
LNP
Motorists queuing for up to an hour at a Tesco petrol station in Sidcup, south-east London[/caption]
Eddie Mitchell
More than 30 vehicles lining up at the ASDA petrol station at Brighton Marina, East Sussex[/caption]

Elsewhere, customers at a BP petrol station in Billericay, Essex, faced major delays this morning, and more than 30 vehicles lined up at the ASDA station at Brighton Marina, East Sussex.

One woman in Surrey said she even witnessed an “old guy” squeeze £2.65 worth of fuel into his tank “before it overflowed onto the floor”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has tried to dissuade drivers from panic buying petrol, telling Sky News: “The advice would be to carry on as normal, and that is what BP is saying as well.”

But Brits have been ignoring him in their thousands, rushing straight to the pump.

A petrol station manager in Coventry said his store is already suffering from a loss of business because of a lack of fuel.

He told Good Morning Britain: “The big problem is driver shortages.

“We ran out of unleaded yesterday at 5.30 and already this morning we’ve seen panic-buying.

“We’ve had to switch of the diesel lane because people have gone crazy and there’s really no need. There’s plenty of fuel, just no drivers.”

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Ministers are said to be drawing up emergency plans to bring soldiers in to drive tankers to forecourts suffering supply issues.

The Times has been told contingency plans, called Operation Escalin, would go into action if the situation significantly deteriorated.

The supply issues came as Hoyer, one of the UK’s largest fuel logistics companies, revealed it was “struggling to meet deliveries”.

It cannot find enough tanker drivers to make fuel deliveries, typically 20 short of the 400 to 450 needed a day.

The Road Haulage Association says the UK lacks 100,000 HGV drivers in total.

Hanna Hofer, BP’s head of UK retail, told a government meeting last week the situation was “bad, very bad”. 

The company said up to 100 of its forecourts were short of at least one grade of fuel. It has started rationing petrol deliveries.

Several have been forced to close entirely due to problems with supplies.

Petrol stations on motorways and major roads are being prioritised for fuel deliveries.

However, the AA today said that most of the UK’s forecourts are working as they should.

The advice would be to carry on as normal, and that is what BP is saying as well.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

President Edmund King said: “There is no shortage of fuel and thousands of forecourts are operating normally with just a few suffering temporary supply chain problems.

“Fridays and the weekend always tend to be busier on forecourts as drivers either combine filling up with shopping runs, prepare for weekend trips or refuel for the start of the new working week.

“Drivers should not fill up outside their normal routines because, even if the occasional petrol station is temporarily closed, others just down the road will be open.

“It is now clear that there have been occasional delays over recent weeks that have been managed with hardly anyone noticing. This was a manageable problem.”

The crisis comes on top of families facing soaring energy bills and empty shelves at supermarkets.

Rex
Empty fuel pumps on the forecourt of an Esso Garage in Hastings, East Sussex, which has already run out of diesel and is short of petrol[/caption]
Vehicles queue for fuel at a Sainsbury’s petrol station in Weymouth
Geoff Robinson
Queues for fuel at the Tesco petrol station in Ely, Cambridgeshire[/caption]
Geoff Robinson
An aerial view of vehicles waiting to fill up at a petrol station in Ely, Cambridgeshire[/caption]
A store manger trying to take control of the situation in Sidcup, south east London
i-Images
Drivers queuing for petrol in Tonbridge, Kent[/caption]
i-Images
Chaos as drivers queue for petrol in Tonbridge, Kent[/caption]
Getty
Pumps out of action at a BP petrol station in London[/caption]
PA
Queues at a Sainsbury’s petrol station in Colton, Leeds[/caption]
i-Images
Huge queues for petrol amid shortage fears[/caption]
Eddie Mitchell
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has insisted motorists ‘carry on as normal’[/caption]
Paul Edwards
Customers queue for petrol at a BP petrol station Billericay, Essex[/caption]
Alamy
Customers queue for fuel at a supermarket petrol station in Brighton this morning[/caption]
Andrew Styczynski
Fears of a fuel shortage due to a lack of delivery drivers has sparked panic buying[/caption]
Reuters
Cars queue up at a petrol and diesel station in Begelly, Pembrokeshire, Wales[/caption]
Geoff Robinson
Huge queues along the slip road to the get to the petrol station at the Swavesey services on the A14 in Cambridgeshire[/caption]


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