Drivers pack cars with jerry cans and £30 cap introduced as panic-buyers scramble for fuel

25 September 2021, 11:47 | Updated: 25 September 2021, 23:35

Drivers have been picking up jerry cans of petrol as large queues continue.
Drivers have been picking up jerry cans of petrol as large queues continue. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Sophie Barnett

A £30 cap has been introduced at hundreds of gridlocked petrol stations after desperate drivers were pictured filling jerry cans with fuel as fears continue over the UK's lorry driver shortage.

Motorists have ignored the Government's plea not to panic-buy and continued to flock to petrol stations across the country on Saturday morning.

Pictures of gridlocked stations and cars being pushed flooded social media as the frenzied buying continues, despite No10 telling people "we have ample stocks" and to "keep buying fuel as normal".

Some people had multiple jerry cans in the boot of their cars and spent time filling each up while others queued for hours to reach the pump.

Read more: Govt looking at temporary visas for lorry drivers as panic-buyers gridlock petrol stations

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Meanwhile, the EG Group - which operates around 400 petrol stations across the UK - has already imposed a £30 limit at the pumps to give everyone a "fair chance to refuel".

It comes after BP warned it was "prioritising" fuel deliveries to petrol stations amid a shortage of lorry drivers and fuel stocks that are "declining rapidly".

There are thought to be a shortage of around 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK, and the government is now in talks to introduce temporary visas for foreign drivers to entice them back to work in the country.

One petrol station owner, named Mohammed, called into LBC to talk about the issue affecting forecourts on Saturday morning.

He said: "We are selling two or three days worth of petrol in six hours."

Mohammed, who lives in Manchester, said panic-buying began on Wednesday as he blamed BP for stirring up fear in consumers.

Meanwhile, property manager Haroon drove from Gatwick to Brixton in his search for petrol.

His van was running so low on fumes he had to get colleagues to push the van down the street as he waited in the queue to get filled up.

He told LBC: "If I didn't have my guys to help me out I would be stuck in the way.

"I've been late for my work for nearly two hours. I've been waiting more than an hour and a half to fill."

He said he wants to see a £30 limit introduced at all stations so people can't panic-buy.

Elsewhere, drivers have been sharing their outrage on Twitter as queues formed down streets, with some sat stationary for hours.

Suffolk councillor Beccy Hopfensperger pleaded with people not to panic buy, as she tweeted: "PLEASE PLEASE stop panic buying fuel, we have carers who are unable to provide urgent essential care to our most vulnerable residents because they can not get fuel or they are waiting in queues for hours #panicbuying #showsomecompassion."

One woman told LBC she is too scared to queue in case she runs out of fuel, as she only has 20 miles left in the tank. She said she will be waiting for the problem to pass, which she hopes will be early next week.

On Twitter, Tannice said she watched someone in Maidstone "fill TWELVE jerry cans".

"Can't believe the selfishness of some people," she added.

Police forces across the country have urged people to avoid creating dangerous queues as officers were sent to control traffic flow.

Read more: Soldiers on standby: Shapps won't rule out using army to drive lorries in shortage crisis

Read more: Hundreds of thousands of people not using their HGV licenses, says Minister

Lincolnshire Police asked drivers to be "sensible" about filling up.

In a statement, the force said: "We have received reports this morning of long queues at some petrol stations in the county.

"This is a potential hazard for vehicles making other journeys, and may cause difficulties for emergency services trying to reach people in need.

"While we appreciate that some people may be particularly keen to fill up their vehicles this weekend, we would respectfully ask motorists to be sensible when making judgements about joining a queue at a petrol station.

"If it is too long, consider returning at a different time."

The queues are affecting a number of people in the country, with one LBC caller particularly frustrated by the panic buying.

A paramedic called into the Matt Frei show on Saturday to share that his 12-hour shift on Friday turned into 16 due to the queues.

He said transporting patients took much longer than usual as a result of the traffic build-up

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On Friday Grant Shapps refused to rule out bringing in soldiers to drive lorries to help alleviate the shortage.

The Transport Secretary was quizzed on LBC about the shortage that has hit the UK in recent weeks, with around 100,000 drivers not working in the industry, according to the Road Haulage Association.

Nick asked the minister how low stocks would have to be and how many petrol stations would have to close before the involvement of the military would be deemed necessary.

Read more: Soldiers on standby: Shapps won't rule out using army to drive lorries in shortage crisis

"Well, I'll look at all of these things and military… it could be a wide range of different things from of course helping to test, to helping to drive," said the minister.

"Right now I just want to be clear... we spoke to (BP) last night, where they said that five out of 1,200 forecourts were unable to stay open - so just to put that in proportion.

"There's plenty of fuel in the refineries, there's no shortage of fuel, it is only the question of the delivery and it's not the situation as we've seen in the country before, where the distribution network's on strike or blockaded or anything like that."