Drone footage shows queues for petrol at Asda in Wigmore
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Triggered by a nationwide shortage of HGV drivers, thousands of motorists have been queueing up at petrol stations to top up their cars. But with pumps across the country running dry, fears of a widespread fuel shortage have led to a surge in panic buying – much like the toilet paper crisis that hit in the early days of Covid lockdown. The petrol crisis has led to jammed up roads, long traffic queues and even scenes of violence between frustrated drivers.
In one instance, video footage appears to show a group of men fighting at an Esso petrol station in Chichester, West Sussex.
Some motorists have also come under fire for attempting to stockpile petrol in an attempt to flog it online.
According to data published by the RAC, petrol prices have hit an eight-year high after a weekend spike.
RAC figures show a litre of petrol priced at 135.9p on Friday rose to 136.6p on Sunday – the highest level since September 2013.
Additional data from Experian Catalist shows diesel prices also rose from 138p a litre on Friday to 138.6p on Sunday.
An expert has now warned a similar crisis could strike again in the autumn and winter, should the Government not learn its lessons from the present chaos.
Dr Duncan Robertson, a Policy and Strategy Analytics academic at Loughborough University, took to Twitter on the weekend to share his three-stage plan to avert another such situation.
He said: “But what do we do ‘now’ given that there may well be other events over the coming autumn and winter.
“First – stop public relations responses to events. This is important stuff that should be above politics.
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“Second – give true, timely, accurate information (an exemplar is the coronavirus dashboard coronavirus.data.gov.uk).
“Third – explain what went wrong objectively and explain what is being done to stop it happening again.
“All of those may be politically easier said than done.”
However, according to the Government and industry insiders, there is no real fuel shortage affecting the UK.
Ministers have assured there is plenty of fuel to go around and the petrol crisis is a byproduct of panic buying.
Similar problems plagued supermarkets at the start of the Covid pandemic when Britons emptied shelves of foods and other essentials in preparation for lockdown life.
But the Government has assured there is enough fuel to meet the nation’s demand – provided the demand levels return to normal.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Monday: “There is no shortage of petrol; plenty of petrol in both our refineries and storage.”
He added the only reason why petrol stations may be running dry is people buying petrol “when they don’t need it”.
The sentiment was mirrored by the fuel industry, who issued a joint statement, saying: “There is plenty of fuel at UK refineries and terminals, and as an industry we are working closely with the Government to help ensure fuel is available to be delivered to stations across the country.
“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.
“We would encourage everyone to buy fuel as they usually would.”
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