Watch: Army drivers hit the road to tackle UK fuel drama
British soldiers have started delivering petrol in an attempt to help alleviate the UK fuel crisis.
Army tanker drivers took to the roads for the first time on Monday to deliver fuel to areas of the country that are still in desperate need of gasoline.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak admitted on Monday that the British could face further shortages as Christmas approaches.
About 200 soldiers – half of whom are drivers – are deployed as part of Operation Escalin.
On Monday morning, soldiers were pictured in uniform and with face masks walking near the gates of the Buncefield oil depot in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
The troops have been on standby since the start of last week.
They will deliver fuel to areas of London and the south-east of England where the greatest shortages remain.
They included members of 3rd Logistics Support Regiment, who were training with Hoyers Oil Industry Logistics Company in Thurrock, Essex.
The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents around 5,000 independent members, said about 22% of service stations in London and the South East still have no fuel.
Its executive director, Gordon Balmer, told Sky News on Monday: “We have a straw poll every day of our members, and yesterday about 11,000 sites responded.
“About 22% of service stations in London and the South East are fuel-free.
“One of the things seems to be worse with BP, but we know they are fixing that.
“Some of our members say they have been without fuel for several days, some for over a week now.”
Balmer said it could take anywhere from a week to 10 days for all sites to operate on normal fuel levels.
Meanwhile, Sunak conceded that there would be shortages over Christmas, but insisted the government was trying to “alleviate” the problem.
After Boris Johnson refused to rule out festive shortages, Sunak told BBC Radio 4 Today program: “We’re seeing supply disruptions, not just here, but in a lot of different places, and there are things we can try to mitigate, and we are.
“But we can’t wave a magic wand. There is nothing I can do about an Asian country’s decision to close a port due to a coronavirus outbreak.
“But rest assured that we are doing everything within our control to try to alleviate some of these challenges.”
Industry executives have warned there will be gaps on supermarket shelves this Christmas.
Pig farmers protested outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Monday amid calls for a COVID recovery visa to allow companies to recruit outside the UK.
National Farmers Union President Minette Batters said: “They are protesting outside and they are angry, distraught and extremely upset.
“They asked for this, we asked for an emergency program, a COVID recovery program, to be put in place to avoid this very scenario. “
Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, told Sky News that Christmas turkeys are likely to come from the mainland this year due to labor shortages in Britain following Brexit, and has added that some foods, such as pigs in blankets, might not be available.
“We’re not saying that there won’t be food on the table at Christmas, but we are struggling to prepare the food for the holiday – the pigs in blankets, the gammon fillet,” he said. he declares.
But Andy Higginson, president of Morrisons supermarket, said the concerns had been “slightly exaggerated.”
He told BBC Radio 4 Today program: “There are logistical issues right now and these are well publicized and slightly exaggerated.
“Supply chains in the UK are incredibly efficient and I’m sure we’ll be able to deliver a great Christmas to customers as we go through. “
Watch: Boris Johnson says shortages could continue until Christmas