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‘Catastrophic’ panic buying of fuel ‘going to get worse’, industry expert warns

Panicked motorists have caused lengthy queues at petrol stations for a second day – as an industry expert predicted the “catastrophic situation” is going to get worse before it improves.

Long lines of cars continued to form at forecourts across the country on Saturday after a shortage of HGV drivers forced some fuel retailers to shut their pumps and ration sales.

The petrol problems come after retailers warned a solution to the lack of truckers must be found within days to avoid “significant disruption” in the run-up to Christmas.

Fuel supply latest: Follow live updates as police urge motorists to ‘be sensible’

Motorists queue for petrol at a petrol station in Brockley, South London
Image: Motorists queue for petrol in Brockley, south London
A man carrying containers at a petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire
Image: A man was seen carrying containers at a petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire

Sky News understands that Boris Johnson has allowed minsters to relax immigration rules and up to 5,000 temporary visas could be issued to foreign lorry drivers.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, described the panic buying as a “catastrophic situation” and said he had witnessed queues up to a mile long at forecourts.

More on Supply Crisis

He told Sky News: “There’s enough fuel at the refineries and terminals to supply the normal demand.

“What we have at the moment is abnormal demand where everyone is rushing to fill up their vehicles.”

He added: “It is a crisis situation that has developed very quickly.”

Mr Madderson warned that the panic buying of fuel risked impacting key workers trying to get to work.

“I think this situation is going to get worse before it gets better,” he added.

An announcement on the temporary visa scheme aimed at HGV drivers is expected this weekend, with Number 10 insisting any move would be “very strictly time-limited”.

The UK is facing a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers, according to the Road Haulage Association.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the country had “ample fuel stocks” and insisted “there are no shortages”.

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Motorists face lengthy wait for fuel at forecourt

But Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner criticised the government for the “crisis now on our forecourts”.

She told Sky News: “People have started to panic buy fuel and I would urge people not to do that because that will only make the situation worse.

“But this is of the government’s own doing and their failures.”

Shell garage, Isleworth
Image: Fuel pumps ran dry at this Shell garage in Isleworth, west London

She added: “It’s a theme that we have with this government – they constantly do things at the last minute, at the last possible point, and create the crisis in the first place.

“Once again Boris Johnson and his government have basically decided to have a laissez-faire attitude and hope that things will just fix themselves.

“Well, they haven’t fixed themselves and their policies have come home to roost for the British public.”

People have been spotted filling up jerry cans with petrol in pictures being circulated on social media.

Lincolnshire Police urged drivers to be “sensible” about filling up at petrol stations after long queues for the pumps built up around the region.

Esso, BP and Tesco forecourts have been affected by problems getting petrol deliveries.

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Queues overnight at petrol stations

BP said around 20 of its 1,200 petrol forecourts were closed due to a lack of available fuel, with between 50 and 100 sites affected by the loss of at least one grade of fuel.

A “small number” of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted, said Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites.

On Friday, the EG Group, which has around 400 petrol stations in the UK, said it was imposing a £30 limit “due to the current unprecedented customer demand for fuel”.

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