Petrol station forecourts closed in Islington amid warning: 'Drafting in the army will not end fuel crisis'

The Shell petrol station in Upper Street, Islingon, is closed amid a nationwide fuel shortage

The Shell petrol station in Upper Street, Islingon, is closed amid a nationwide fuel shortage - Credit: Andre Langlois

Petrol station forecourts are closed across Islington amid a national fuel shortage, as the industry warns that drafting in the army will not resolve the crisis.

Boris Johnson is thought to be considering sending in troops to drive oil tankers after days of panic buying saw filling stations in many areas - including Shell in Upper Street and Holloway Road, and Esso in Archway Road - run dry.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) chairman Brian Madderson confirmed some training had been taking place “in the background” for military personnel.

But he warned it was not an “absolute panacea” and that there was no “single lever” the Government and the industry could pull to resolve the crisis.

With long queues at filling stations continuing over the weekend, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced on Sunday he was temporarily suspending competition laws to allow the industry to share information so it can target areas where fuel supply is running low.

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The move came after Mr Johnson said the Government was creating 5,000 three-month visas for foreign lorry drivers in an attempt to ease the pressure on hauliers which has been blamed over the problems.

A statement by Shell, ExxonMobile and other industry bodies again insisted there was no “national shortage of fuel” and that the pressures on supply were the result of “temporary spikes in customer demand”.

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But with no immediate sign of the problem easing, Mr Johnson is reported to be holding a series of meetings to consider whether to activate the military for Operation Escalin.

However, Mr Madderson said it was not just a question of moving supplies to the filling stations as drivers had to load up their tanks at the gantry at the terminal, which was a skilled job.

The panic buying spree was sparked last week after concerns from BP were leaked that the shortage of lorry drivers could impact upon its ability to keep up with fuel deliveries.

The surge in demand led the PRA to warn that as many as two thirds of its membership of nearly 5,500 independent outlets were out of fuel on Sunday, with the rest of them “partly dry and running out soon”.

For Labour, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the haulage industry had been warning for months about the shortage of drivers, but ministers had simply ignored them.

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