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Government’s reserve tanker fleet to hit roads this afternoon to boost fuel deliveries

The Government is to start fuel deliveries this afternoon ahead of plans to use army drivers later this week.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed the Government’s reserve tanker fleet will be on the road this afternoon to boost deliveries of fuel to forecourts across Britain

With long queues and continued panic buying still being seen in many forecourts across the country, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “I can confirm the Government’s reserve tanker fleet will be on the road this afternoon to boost deliveries of fuel to forecourts across Britain.”

The reserve fleet of trucks will be driven by civilians, providing additional logistical capacity to the fuel industry, which continues to struggle with a driver shortage.

Mr Kwarteng added: “We are now seeing signs that the situation at the pumps has begun to improve with more stations getting more fuel. The sooner we can all return to our normal buying habits, the sooner the situation will return to normal.”

His comments come after the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) reassured drivers again yesterday that there is plenty of fuel at UK refineries and terminals, and said that with many cars now holding more fuel than usual, demand is expected to return to normal levels in coming days.

The Government is also said to be readying the Army to start deliveries within days.

According to the BBC, Mr Kwarteng revealed this morning that ministers had decided to deploy troops to drive tankers “in the next couple of days” and that some 150 military drivers are ready to drive the fuel tankers.

However, the MOD has said: “At this stage, no final decision on whether to deploy military personnel has been made. We’ll be putting out more information once the situation has progressed further.”

The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent forecourts across the UK and covers 65% of total UK forecourts, also said the fuel chaos seemed to be easing.

Gordon Balmer, PRA executive director, commented: “There are early signs that the crisis at pumps is ending, with more of our members reporting that they are now taking further deliveries of fuel. Fuel stocks remain normal at refineries and terminals, although deliveries have been reduced.”

However, there are still reports of chaotic scenes at petrol pumps, including an image indicating a man using a knife in a fight at a forecourt in south London, and of drivers using jerry cans, water bottles and even a bin bag to store extra fuel – that’s despite the calls for drivers to just buy fuel as normal. Key workers also continue to express concerns with being able to access fuel.

There is also growing evidence that car usage has dropped as drivers reduce journeys in response to fuel anxiety. New figures from the Department for Transport reveal that car traffic on Monday fell to 91% of pre-pandemic levels, compared with 97% a week earlier.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.


  • Tom Traynor29. Sep, 2021

    What is the government reserve tanker fleet ? and who are the civilian drivers who will man them ?

    • Natalie Middleton30. Sep, 2021

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for the query.

      It’s a government-owned tanker fleet, used as a reserve for emergency situations. It numbers 80 tankers. It will be leased to haulier firms.

      It was the Business Secretary’s comments that they will be driven by civilian drivers. According to latest reports, there are now too many petrol hauliers, but not enough vehicles, after firms cut leave and some drivers started volunteering. However, army drivers could also be driving fuel tankers within days – this still hasn’t been confirmed by the MOD though.


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