The Army is on stand by with up to 150 military tanker drivers preparing to deliver fuel to forecourts around the country to help ease supply problems created by the UK's HGV driver shortage.
The measure comes as panic buying at fuel stations across the country continues into a fourth day, which was triggered last week by news that BP had been forced to close a number of its fuel stations due to a shortage of tanker drivers.
It is understood an initial 75 military drivers will be put on standby, with up to 150 available if needed. The Army drivers will also need specialised training, which will take up to five days.
The government has also extended ADR licences, removing the need for tanker drivers to complete CPC training, in a bid to boost their numbers. The move applies to licences expiring between 27 September 2021 and 31 December 2021, extending them until 31 January 2022.
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Announcing the moves today (28 September) Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: "While the fuel industry expects demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days, it’s right that we take this sensible, precautionary step.
"The UK continues to have strong supplies of fuel, however we are aware of supply chain issues at fuel station forecourts and are taking steps to ease these as a matter of priority.
"If required, the deployment of military personnel will provide the supply chain with additional capacity as a temporary measure to help ease pressures caused by spikes in localised demand for fuel."
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace added: "The men and women of our Armed Forces stand ready to alleviate the transport pressures where they are felt most. That is why I have authorised their increased preparedness so they are ready to respond if needed.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said today that panic buying at fuel stations was slowing. He said: "People have been responding to the message to only fill up when they actually need fuel and in any case their cars are now fuller.
"Even though the current network of tanker drivers is capable of delivering all the fuel we need – we have taken the additional step of asking the army to help plug the gap, whilst new HGV drivers come on stream thanks to all the other measures we’ve already taken.
"Extending ADR licences will further help ease any pressures on fuel drivers by removing the need for refresher training courses and ensuring they can keep providing their vital service on our roads."