British MILITARY ‘on standby’ to deploy trucks & drivers amid fuel supply shortage blamed on ‘panic buying’

British MILITARY ‘on standby’ to deploy trucks & drivers amid fuel supply shortage blamed on ‘panic buying’

The British army could soon deploy its own fuel tankers to fill a major logistics gap caused by a lack of lorries and drivers, with some petrol stations running dry in some areas as deliveries have all but ground to a halt.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced the plans on Monday night, with the government stating that army tanker drivers would receive specialized training to “enable them to seamlessly work with industry to address the supply chain pressures.”

“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,” he said, as quoted by Sky News.

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The announcement comes after several days of panic-buying across the UK, driven by fears of a possible fuel shortage, leaving some stations out of gasoline due to the sudden surge in demand. British officials, however, insist there is no supply shortage, but rather a lack of delivery trucks and drivers needed to distribute the fuel.

Before Wallace’s statement, Environment Secretary George Eustice denied reports of any army involvement, saying that there were “no plans at the moment” to do such a thing, though he did acknowledge that military personnel would remain on “standby.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng submitted a Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) request to the army to secure drivers if needed. He argued that while “the UK continues to have strong supplies of fuel,” the request was a “sensible, precautionary step,” adding that he expects demand to return to normal levels “in the coming days.” Nonetheless he said that the government is “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.

Echoing Kwarteng, Eustice noted that the spate of panic-buying, which continued through the weekend, was now “calming down” and that consumers were returning to “normal buying habits.”

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Under an order by Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps, ADR driver’s licenses – which are issued to truck drivers and others who transport potentially dangerous goods, including fuel – have also been extended in hopes of keeping more tankers on the road. Those with licenses expiring between September 27 and December 31 will now have until January 31 to renew them.

“Extending ADR licenses 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,” Shapps said.

Fears of fuel shortages even prompted the British Medical Association (BMA) to request emergency measures to allow ambulances to take priority at the fuel pump, as “there is a real risk that [National Health Service] staff won’t be able to do their jobs” in the event petrol stations run dry.

“Emergency and essential workers rely on fuel both to travel to work and for their work itself – whether this is to get to hospitals, practices and other healthcare settings, or for ambulances to reach people in urgent need of care and GPs to visit very ill patients at home,” BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said in a statement.

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Hand written signs are stuck to a petrol pump with no fuel available at a Shell filling station in Manchester, Britain on September 24, 2021.
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