Military tank drivers will be deployed to deliver fuel to front yards across the UK from Monday amid persistent supply issues at filling stations.
Nearly 200 military personnel – including 100 drivers – are undergoing training at transport sites and will begin deliveries to help ease the situation, which the government insists is stabilizing.
It was also announced to extend the temporary visa scheme for foreign heavy vehicle drivers that was due to expire on December 24 until the end of February, after criticism of the drivers’ attractiveness due to its length.
The government said 300 fuel drivers will be able to come to the UK from abroad “immediately” under a temporary ad hoc visa that runs until March, and another 4,700 visas for foreign food transport drivers will be extended beyond the three months initially announced and will run from late October. until the end of February.
The government said demand for fuel has stabilized and there is now more than it is being sold, but some parts of the country still face challenges.
Duchy of Lancaster Chancellor Steve Barclay said: “The government has taken decisive action to address the short-term disruption to our supply chains, in particular the flow of fuel to front ports.
“We are now seeing the impact of these interventions with more fuel being delivered to front yards than selling, and if people continue to go back to their normal buying patterns we will see smaller queues and prevent gas station closings.”
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Over the weekend, more than 200 military personnel will be mobilized as part of Operation Escalin.
“While the situation stabilizes, our armed forces are there to fill any important vacancies and help keep the country in motion by supporting industry to deliver fuel to the front pitches.”
The temporary visa scheme was announced last week as panic hit filling stations across the UK, as a shortage of heavy truck drivers affected petrol and diesel supplies.
In addition to foreign drivers, 5,500 poultry workers will also be allowed in to help keep supermarket shelves stocked with turkeys before Christmas.
The government said these workers will now be able to stay until December 31.
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But she added that visas would not be a long-term solution and wanted to see employers make investments in the UK’s local workforce rather than relying on overseas labor.
She said she is also working with industry to find long-term solutions to the shortage of heavy truck drivers and encourage more people to enter logistics through better wages and conditions.
Business Secretary Kwasi Quarting said: “Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the industry over the past week, we are seeing continuing indications that the situation at the pumps is slowly improving. UK front yard inventory levels are trending upwards and front yard fuel shipments are above normal, as The demand for fuel is stabilizing.
“It is important to stress that there is no national fuel shortage in the UK, and people should continue to buy fuel as normal. The sooner we get back to our normal purchasing habits, the sooner we can get back to normal.”
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