Queues at Tesco petrol station in Stroud after fuel concerns

The Transport Secretary has tried to dissuade drivers from panic buying petrol, after BP was forced to close down a handful of its forecourts.

Grant Shapps said on Friday that motorists should “carry on as normal”.

“The advice would be to carry on as normal, and that is what BP is saying as well,” he told Sky News.

Pictured here is the scene at the Tesco petrol station Stroud at lunchtime today, where a steward was marshalling traffic as cars backed up along Stratford Road.

On Thursday BP said it had closed a “handful” of its petrol forecourts due to a lock of available fuel.

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

He said: “As of last night, five petrol stations on the BP network out of 12 or 13 hundred were affected.

“I’m meeting this morning with Tesco and I’m sure they’ll give me the update for themselves.

“None of the other retailers said they had any closures.”

He added: “The others, Asda, Morrisons and other supermarkets, are saying they have no problems, as have other petrol companies.”

To the BBC’s Today programme Mr Shapps promised he would do what is needed to ensure that petrol gets to drivers.

“I’ll move heaven and Earth to do anything that’s required to make sure that lorries carry on moving our goods and services and petrol around the country,” he said.

He denied that Brexit was the culprit in the UK’s recent shortage of lorry drivers.

The AA has said that most of the UK’s forecourts are working as they should amid worries over supply of petrol at some sites. 

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

“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.”

On Thursday Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association trade body said that the Government had allowed the driver shortage to get “gradually worse” in recent months.

Ministers are facing fresh pressure to ease immigration rules as an emergency measure to attract HGV drivers from overseas.

A combination of factors including Brexit leading to the loss of European Union drivers, the pandemic preventing driving tests and systemic problems in the industry relating to pay and conditions are claimed to have led to the shortage of qualified HGV drivers.

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “We have good availability of fuel, with deliveries arriving at our petrol filling stations across the UK every day.”

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