Panic buying hits petrol stations across UK as government appeals for calm

The government have appealed for drivers to act "responsibly" as monster queues formed outside petrol stations across the country this afternoon.

Motorists have been waiting for up to 30 minutes to fill their tank at some locations, with Tonbridge, Kent, Blackheath, south-east London and Brighton reported to be especially badly affected.

Stressing that there was plenty of supply to go round and that only five of BP's 12,00 petrol stations were affected by closures, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has looked to issue reassurance.

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

The minister told BBC Breakfast that soldiers could be brought in to drive lorries carrying petrol, or they might be used to train up staff if a shortage of HGV drivers continued to impact the supply chain.

He said: "We will look at every possibility, every way of doing this.

“But this is not as we have seen with previous fuel crises, that there are no drivers or fuel blockades or strikes going on. What’s happening here are a small number of deliveries are being missed."

Mr Shapps also did not rule out emergency visas to recruit HGV drivers from abroad if the shortfall of around 100,000 drivers didn't improve soon.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the RAC has said fuel prices are unlikely to be affected by any shortages of supply.

“The supply issues affecting a small number of petrol forecourts shouldn’t impact the prices drivers pay to fill up," he said.

“But unfortunately the price of oil, which has the biggest influence on what drivers pay the pumps, is continuing to rise at the moment.

“This may lead to fuel prices going up in the coming days which would be yet more bad news for drivers as a litre of unleaded is already over 21p a litre more expensive than a year ago.”

BP’s Head of UK Retail, Hanna Hofer, aid it was important the government understood the “urgency of the situation”, which she described as “bad, very bad”.

In practical terms BP is planning to run 80% of service levels to 90% of its forecourt network, which means that most locations will not be restocked for one and a half days a week.

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