UK puts army on standby to tackle fuel crisis

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The military drivers will now receive specialised training before deploying, enabling them to seamlessly work with industry to address the supply chain pressures, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

The UK government on Monday announced further measures to help further ease supply chain pressures and spikes in localised demand for fuel, including the approval to put on standby a pool of military drivers and extension to specific HGV licences.

British Army tanker drivers will be brought to a state of readiness in order to be deployed if required to deliver fuel to where it is needed most and providing further reassurance that fuel supplies remain strong, the government has announced.

The military drivers will now receive specialised training before deploying, enabling them to seamlessly work with industry to address the supply chain pressures.

The Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) request was issued by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on Monday. โ€œWhile the fuel industry expects demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days, itโ€™s right that we take this sensible, precautionary step,โ€ Kwarteng said.

โ€œThe UK continues to have strong supplies of fuel, however we are aware of supply chain issues at fuel station forecourts and are taking steps to ease these as a matter of priority.โ€

โ€œIf 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,โ€ he added.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has authorised an extension to ADR driver licences, which allow drivers to transport goods, such as fuel.

The measure will apply to licences expiring between 27 September 2021 and 31 December 2021, and extend their validity until 31 January 2022. This will provide immediate relief to the shortage of fuel drivers by permitting affected drivers to maximise their available capacity instead of being taken out of circulation for refresher training purposes.

โ€œWe are starting to see panic buying moderate โ€“ with more grades of fuel now available at more petrol stations. People have been responding to the message to only fill up when they actually need fuel and in any case their cars are now fuller,โ€ Shapps said.

He said extending ADR licences 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.

Labour said the latest response to the fuel crisis was “an admission of failure” and that asking the Army to step up was “a sticking plaster”, the BBC reported.

Leading fuel suppliers, including BP and Shell, have sought to reassure the public that supplies remain unaffected at source – with pressures expected to ease shortly, it was reported.

“As many cars are now holding more fuel than usual, we expect that demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days, easing pressures on fuel station forecourts,” they said in a joint statement.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay said: โ€œTo make sure that this positive trend continues, we are putting military drivers on standby to help move fuel to petrol stations around the country should it be needed. This additional capacity will help prevent any further disruption.โ€

Meanwhile, the government has decided to expand its seasonal workers scheme to offer over 10,000 temporary visas to meet the shortages from nearby European countries.

While the Opposition has blamed Brexit for the crisis, the government insists the shortage is a temporary supply issue in the wake of the pandemic which will be resolved alongside investments in long-term training.

The government confirmed that 5,000 fuel tanker and food truck drivers will be eligible to work in Britain for three months.

The scheme is also being extended to 5,500 poultry workers to meet supplies for the Christmas season.

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