Published: 08:05, 25 September 2021
| Updated: 11:10, 25 September 2021
Drivers have been queuing through the night as panic buying fuel sees prices at some pumps in Kent soar.
At some forecourts in the county on Friday, motorists were horrified as prices increased by between 12p and 15p to nearly £1.50p per litre.
Meanwhile, towns remained gridlocked through Friday evening as garages started to get busier early on Saturday morning.
People have been taking to social media desperately asking where might have fuel after a raid on the pumps yesterday.
Many said garages had been drained of fuel in several towns around the county and for a second day running there is none available at the M20 services at Maidstone.
Queues were reported at 2.30am on Saturday at the Co-op filling station at Minster near Manston Airport on the Thanet Way while others reported a delivery earlier in the night was already running low.
But the government has insisted there is no need to panic buy and there is plenty of fuel in the supply chain.
Meanwhile hundreds of petrol stations are now planning to impose a £30 fuel cap per driver to ensure everyone has a “fair chance to refuel”.
The EG Group, which has 341 petrol stations in the UK, confirmed the emergency services and lorry drivers would not be affected.
Ministers last night were discussing plans to temporarily relax visa rules for foreign drivers in order to address a shortage being faced across the haulage industry at the moment.
Details of the plan, reported by the Financial Times, has not yet been confirmed by the government but are anticipated to be announced over the weekend.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, AA chairman Edmund King reassured drivers there is "no shortage in petrol or diesel at source".
He later added on Twitter: "Please stick to normal filling patterns and this will be temporary blip as new supplies delivered every 24 to 48 hours."
Huw Merriman MP, chairman of parliament's transport select committee, said: "I regret what we're seeing on the forecourts.
"I'm afraid to say that when the message gets out there may be a fuel shortage, people understandably react.
"We need to calm things down and there's no issue with fuel supplies we've got."
"We need to calm things down and there's no issue with fuel supplies we've got. It's a case of getting them to the forecourt.
"For years they've talked about driver shortage and not reformed the way they look after staff and pay.
"We've got a bit of a panic but people don't need to panic in the ways they are."
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday that motorists should “carry on as normal” as he tried to dissuade panic buying.
But his message seemed to be ignored by thousands of drivers with people reporting queues and "gridlock" through several Kent towns as people swamped petrol stations.
It prompted a price surge at some garages as customers took to social media to criticise "profiteering on a grand scale".
One said prices at the Ashford Road garage in Bearsted had increased diesel to 147.9p per litre – similar to prices seen at motorway service stations recently.
The Texaco garage in Sittingbourne also hiked prices by about 12p per litre on Friday as the queues built up with unleaded reaching 145.9p and diesel 147.9p per litre.
The fuel buying surge started after it was reported by BP it had been struggling with a shortage of tanker drivers leading to a handful of its 1,200 garages around the country being forced to close until they could replace stock.
Speaking on Friday, David Charman, the owner of the BP Parkfoot petrol station in West Malling, confirmed the station had run out of unleaded but should have enough diesel to last so long as people stop panic buying.
He said: "We ran out of fuel for 24 hours, then we had more delivered yesterday afternoon and it has been crazy ever since.
"We have run out of unleaded and I don't know when my next delivery will be because there's plenty of fuel, but it's a struggle to get it into the tanks at petrol stations because of the lorry driver shortage.
"There is plenty of fuel and no need to panic buy"
"The message is only buy what you need otherwise nobody can keep up with the extra demand because we haven't got the three days of stock we normally have.
"Fortunately we always have four members of staff on our tills so we pride ourselves on having few queues.
"The shop is open as normal and when we ran out yesterday, it was just as busy even though we didn't have petrol customers coming in."
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