Ministers hold urgent talks on driver shortage as Shell experiences ‘increased demand’ at petrol stations

Business

The transport secretary has said motorists should “carry on as normal” when it comes to buying fuel, after BP closed some of its petrol stations due to supply issues.

The energy giant said tens of forecourts in its 1,200-strong network were experiencing shortages – blamed on the nationwide lack of HGV drivers – while rival Esso said a few of its sites were affected.

Tesco said two of the 500 petrol stations it operates were currently affected, describing the impact as minimal and ensuring that supply is replenished whenever this happens.

Speaking to Kay Burley, Grant Shapps said the shortage of drivers should “smooth out fairly quickly” as more HGV driving tests have been made available.

But speaking to Sky News, Rod McKenzie from the Road Haulage Association warned: “There’s no early end in sight to this.

“We’ll probably be having to live with the trucker shortage for at least another year or so, even if the government tackles the issue urgently.”

Asked how many forecourts were affected on Friday morning, Mr Shapps replied: “I’m afraid I don’t have the answer to that at 7am in the morning.

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“What I can tell you is yesterday, as of last night, five petrol stations on the BP network of 1,200 to 1,300 were affected.

“I’m meeting this morning with Tesco and I’m sure they’ll give me the update for themselves.

“None of the other retailers said that they had any closures.”

One demand from the industry has been for the government to introduce short-term visas to bring drivers over from the continent to address the shortage.

Asked if ministers would consider this, the transport secretary said he would “look at everything” and “move heaven and earth” to address the issue.

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