PIC EXCLUSIVE: Military starts training emergency HGV drivers

PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: Our boys deliver! Military starts training emergency drivers as Britain’s fuel crisis is set to last another week

  • RAF airmen had a day of intensive instruction at a BP oil refinery in Hertfordshire
  • The soldiers belonged to a ‘reconnaissance party’, according to defence sources
  • More expected at site in next few days as Government ramps up ‘Operation Escalin’

Troops were yesterday seen finalising their training to deliver to fuel-starved forecourts.

As our exclusive images show, RAF airmen were arriving for a day of intensive instruction at a BP oil refinery in Hertfordshire.

They belonged to a ‘reconnaissance party’, according to defence sources. 

More are expected at the site in the next few days as the Government ramps up ‘Operation Escalin’ – the codename for the plan to drastically reduce pressure on fuel supplies.

It follows days of failed attempts by ministers to ease panic-buying at forecourts across the country.

Around 300 troops have been on standby since the start of the week and last night Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed 200 of them will begin deliveries from Monday. 

A government source said motorists might see some military drivers on the roads today.

As our exclusive images show, RAF airmen were arriving for a day of intensive instruction at a BP oil refinery in Hertfordshire

A government source said motorists might see some military drivers on the roads today

The Government also dismissed reports that forecourts were running out of fuel faster than it could be delivered (Pictured: Site where RAF airmen are being trained)

The airmen (pictured) belonged to a ‘reconnaissance party’, according to defence sources

Boris Johnson was last night facing the prospect of the fuel crisis overshadowing the Conservative Party conference, which starts in Manchester tomorrow (Pictured: Oil Tanker refuels at the Esso Fuel Terminal in Purfleet today, as the oil crisis continues)

Policing minister Kit Malthouse insisted the situation was ‘stabilising’ but might take another week to be resolved.

The Government also dismissed reports that forecourts were running out of fuel faster than it could be delivered. 

Officials also played down claims from retailers that more than half of 8,380 filling stations were suffering severe shortages. 

But the sight of troops on the roads is likely to raise public fears.

Labour leader Keir Starmer demanded the recall of Parliament to discuss approving short-term visas for foreign drivers. 

Sir Keir also called for an emergency summit with haulage industry leaders to focus on long-term issues such as pay and conditions.

Boris Johnson was last night facing the prospect of the fuel crisis overshadowing the Conservative Party conference, which starts in Manchester tomorrow. 

Government insiders were said to be referring to the ongoing disruption as the ‘EFFing crisis’, as it includes energy, fuel and food.

The crisis has sparked a spate of fuel thefts, with criminals stealing 30,000 litres of diesel from a family-run truck shop in Hampshire. Thieves have also been taking fuel from parked cars.

More are expected at the site (pictured) in the next few days as the Government ramps up ‘Operation Escalin’ – the codename for the plan to drastically reduce pressure on fuel supplies 

BP, Shell, Esso and Texaco have placed a £30 limit per customer at almost 400 garages while smaller independent stations were reportedly missing out on deliveries.

Industry insiders fear the situation may worsen over the weekend as millions of families attempt day trips in their cars.

London and the South East remained hardest hit by the fuel crisis yesterday with the situation reportedly improving in northern England and across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 

Gordon Balmer, of the Petrol Retailers Association, said improvements in fuel supply to stations were too slow, with 26 per cent of the UK’s 8,380 stations reporting yesterday that they were ‘completely dry’.

Another 27 per cent had only either diesel or petrol.

Mr Balmer warned: ‘While the situation is similar to recent days, there are signs that it is improving, but far too slowly. Until independents start getting frequent supplies, we will continue to see long queues at forecourts.’

Even if the fuel debacle is resolved, ministers expect problems in other areas to continue.

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