UK puts army on standby to ease fuel crisis

The UK has placed the Army on standby to help ease fuel supply problems after a fourth day of long queues and pump closures.

Up to 150 military tanker drivers will prepare to deliver to forecourts which have run dry because of panic buying.

The surge in demand came amid fears a driver shortage would hit fuel supply – which is plentiful at refineries.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are starting to see panic buying moderate with more grades of fuel available at more petrol stations.”

The UK is estimated to be short of more than 100,000 lorry drivers – causing problems for a range of industries, including food suppliers and supermarkets, in recent months.

The government has said people needlessly buying fuel has led to queues at many petrol stations, with fuel running out in some places.

Motoring group the RAC said the price of a litre of unleaded petrol had risen by a penny since Friday to an eight-year high. It added it was aware a small number of retailers were hiking prices amid the soaring demand.

Meanwhile, there are mounting calls for key workers, such as health and social care staff, to receive priority access to fuel where it is available.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the move to place the Army on standby was a “sensible, precautionary step” and if troops had to be deployed, they would temporarily “provide the supply chain with additional capacity” to ease the pressure caused by increased fuel demand.

The BBC has been told that 75 military drivers are on standby initially, and another 75 could be added if needed. They require up to five days of specialised training. (Courtesy BBC)

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