Shoppers and motorists have been urged not to panic buy fuel and goods as the lorry driver shortage hits supplies.
Ministers face fresh pressure to ease immigration rules as an emergency measure to attract HGV drivers from overseas amid warnings that 100,000 more were needed across the industry.
BP said a “handful” of its filling stations are closed due to a lack of fuel, and Esso owner ExxonMobil also said a “small number” of its Tesco Alliance petrol forecourts have been impacted.
Government faces ‘winter of discontent’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested adding HGV drivers to the skilled worker list for immigration purposes would not solve the problem, though said no option had been ruled out.
The issues around petrol supply, on top of problems in the food industry and rising gas prices have led to warnings the Government faces a “winter of discontent”.
A combination of factors including Brexit leading to the loss of European Union drivers, the pandemic preventing driving tests and systemic problems in the industry relating to pay and conditions have led to the shortage of qualified HGV drivers.
‘We have a shortage of 100,000 drivers’
Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association trade body accused ministers of “government by inertia”, allowing the situation to get “gradually worse” in recent months.
He told BBC Newsnight: “We have got a shortage of 100,000 (drivers).
“When you think that everything we get in Britain comes on the back of a lorry – whether it’s fuel or food or clothes or whatever it is – at some point, if there are no drivers to drive those trucks, the trucks aren’t moving and we’re not getting our stuff.”
Mr McKenzie added: “I don’t think we are talking about absolutely no fuel or food or anything like that, people shouldn’t panic buy food or fuel or anything else, that’s not what this is about.
“This is about stock outs, it’s about shortages, it’s about a normal supply chain being disrupted.”
Why supplies have been disrupted
Supplies have been disrupted for some time in England due to a variety of factors.
Firstly, a lack of CO2 is causing issues with food supply, while a shortage of HGV drivers and workers in factories, fields and processing plants is worsening the problem.
A version of this article originally appeared on NationalWorld.com