Explained: What is causing the long queues at petrol stations?

Drivers queue up at the BP fuelling station in Rougham Road, Bury St Edmunds

Drivers queue up at the BP fuelling station in Rougham Road, Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

Concerns over diesel and petrol supplies have resulted in some filling stations across the country having to temporarily close - but why are we panicking?

While BP, Shell and Esso have confirmed a small number of their forecourts across the UK have been temporarily shut this week due to a lack of fuel, the vast majority of the firms' stations across East Anglia remain open at this time.

There is actually no shortage of petrol or diesel in the UK - however there are concerns about deliveries which is linked to a lack of lorry drivers.

The UK is estimated to have a shortfall of 100,000 HGV drivers, a situation which has been fuelled by a combination of the Covid pandemic and Brexit adding to long-running issues with working conditions and pay rates.

Motorists queue up to get fuel at Asda in Bury St Edmunds

Motorists queue up to get fuel at Asda in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

Mr Schapps had, however, denied that Brexit is to blame for the shortage of lorry drivers, arguing that the split from the European Union has helped the Government react.

He told the BBC Today programme: "Not only are there very large and even larger shortages in other EU countries like Poland and Germany, which clearly can’t be to do with Brexit, but actually because of Brexit I’ve been able to change the law and alter the way our driving tests operate in a way I could not have done if we were still part of the EU.


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“So, Brexit actually has provided part of the solution of giving more slots available for HGV (heavy goods vehicle) tests and there are a lot more, twice as many, tests available now than before the pandemic, a large proportion of those we’ve only been able to do because we are no longer in the EU.”

Last week BP reportedly told the Government that the company was struggling to get fuel to its forecourt with head of UK retail Hanna Hofer describing the situation as “bad, very bad”.

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They said supplies were around a third down on where they should for "smooth operations”, she said.

She also said that levels were “declining rapidly”.

However, these concerns have lead to panic buying which will further diminish supplies.

Motorists are being urged to only fill up when needed, to ensure there are no extra pressures on supply.


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