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Fuel tankers could be allowed to carry more fuel under government plans to prevent disruption to the supply chain.

Most tankers operate with spare capacity due to the 44-tonne weight limit, but the Department for Transport (DfT) is now consulting on whether to allow the vehicles to operate to their full design train weight.

It said doing so could increase the efficiency of the fuel supply chain by 6%.

Panic buying in September 2021 led to filling stations running dry and more recently climate activists have targeted refineries, which affected fuel supplies.

Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “Thanks to the government’s bold measures to support the sector, our country has now an even stronger haulage supply chain.

“We will continue to work with and listen to the sector to ensure our forecourts are always well stocked and motorists can fill up with confidence.”

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The DfT said any increase in fuel capacity would apply only to fuel tankers equipped with safety features such as vehicle stability functionality and advanced emergency braking systems.

Routes to be used would also have to be agreed in advance to ensure the road infrastructure can accommodate the fuel tankers operating at full capacity.

The government added that an assessment of the proposals by National Highways indicated that the increase in safety risks would be extremely small and any risk of infrastructure damage would be effectively managed.

The consultation can be found here and it closes on 17 May.