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Scots transport boss warn panic buying fuel could be putting lives at risk

Transport bosses have warned that panic ­buying of fuel at filling stations could be putting lives at risk.

The Road Haulage Association in Scotland and Northern Ireland said the current level of demand would end up restricting vital supplies to emergency services.

Operations manager Louise Moules spoke out as garages were forced to close yesterday after running out of fuel.

Others saw long waits on ­forecourts and some started imposing £30 restrictions on petrol and diesel.

Moules said: “That is a worry for the police, fire and ambulance if we continue to purchase fuel at the current levels. Most of the organisations will have on-site fuel.

“The concern is when you have an ­emergency vehicle out on the road and it is running low on petrol or diesel.

“What ­happens if they can’t get fuel at one stop and then have to go six miles down the road to the next stop and they can’t get it there?

“Meanwhile, you have people phoning the police or ambulance looking for help.

“You don’t want emergency vehicles moving between filling stations looking for fuel but can’t get it because motorists are ­filling their tanks.”

Queues were spotted at Asda in Cumbernauld

The EG Group, which owns 400 forecourts across the country including sites in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen, yesterday brought in a £30 ­spending limit after large-scale panic buying on Friday.

The emergency services and HGV drivers are exempt from the rule.

Moules added: “If people are over-purchasing as seems to be happening just now then it will affect the supply to the ­emergency services.

“They are then going to have to purchase extra to make sure they don’t run short that, so it will put an extra strain on supply.

“When motorists are buying fuel they should be thinking how that will affect organisations like the police, fire and ambulance services that need it most.

“If they stick to their normal purchasing habits there should be enough for everyone.”

There is no shortage of petrol or diesel coming from refineries. Shortages at the pumps are a result of there not being enough drivers to bring tankers to filling stations.

The situation has been made far worse by people panic buying for fear of running out of fuel.

Petrol stations across Britain were affected by intense demand from drivers, with some ­closing their forecourts yesterday as thousands of customers filled up.

A filling station run by ­Sainsbury’s in East Kilbride closed after a rush from ­hundreds of motorists.

And a Gulf in ­Kirkintilloch Road in ­Bishopbriggs, near ­Glasgow, reopened yesterday morning after running out of fuel the night before.

The picture was not the same everywhere. In Wester Ross, ­Kinlochewe service station in Achnasheen reported no ­shortages or panic buying.

One staff member said: “We had a tanker delivery yesterday and we have been a bit busier than usual.”

AA president Edmund King yesterday urged drivers to only put in their tank what they ­absolutely needed, saying that overbuying was contributing to the shortage.

He also expressed concerns about the ongoing ­shortage of about 100,000 lorry and HGV drivers.

The UK Government is ­considering plans to issue 5000 temporary visas to allow more foreign drivers into the country.

The scheme is expected to run for three months, ending on Christmas Eve. More details are due to be announced today.

The European Road Haulers Association said it would be a “good idea” but “only part of the solution”.

Yesterday BP, Shell, Tesco and Morrisons insisted they were doing their best to keep the fuel flowing at their outlets.

A BP spokesman said: “We are experiencing fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites. This is being caused by a shortage of qualified drivers. The majority of the 1200 sites we supply remain supplied and open.

“However, at the moment we estimate that 10 to 15 per cent of sites in this network currently may not have one grade of fuel or another.”

Scots transport boss warn panic buying fuel could be putting lives at risk
Louise Moules who is warning about fuel shortages affecting emergency services

Shell added: “We are working hard to ensure supplies for ­customers.

“Since Friday we have been seeing a higher-than-normal demand across our network which is resulting in some sites running low on some grades.”

Morrisons said: “It is a rapidly moving situation and we are working hard with our suppliers to ensure we can continue to keep our pumps open and serve our customers”

A Tesco spokesman added: “We have good availability of fuel, with deliveries arriving at our petrol filling stations across the UK every day.

“We have experienced some temporary outages in a small number of areas.”

A UK Government ­spokesman said: “We have ample fuel stocks in this country and the public should be reassured there are no shortages.

“But like countries around the world we are suffering from a temporary Covid-related ­shortage of drivers needed to move supplies around.

“We’re looking at temporary measures to avoid any ­immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly time-limited.

“We are moving to a high wage, high-skilled economy and ­businesses need to adapt with investment in recruitment and training to provide long-term ­resilience.”

The Scottish Government said that it was monitoring the situation and providing support where it could.

Police Scotland declined to comment on fuel supplies.

Scottish Ambulance and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service did not respond to our request for a comment.

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