Armed forces could deliver fuel as BP starts rationing petrol & Tesco shuts forecourts amid trucker shortage

SOLDIERS could be called upon to drive tankers under emergency government plans.

Ministers are said to be discussing placing servicemen on standby to drive petrol tankers amid reports at least 100 forecourts were suffering supply issues because of a driver shortage.

The Times has been told contingency plans, called Operation Escalin, would go into action if the situation significantly deteriorated.

The supply issues came as Hoyer, one of the UK’s largest fuel logistics companies, revealed it was "struggling to meet deliveries".

It cannot find enough tanker drivers to make fuel deliveries.

They are typically 20 short of the 400-450 a day needed.

The Road Haulage Association says the UK lacks 100,000 HGV drivers.

Hanna Hofer, BP’s head of UK retail, told a government meeting last week the situation was "bad, very bad". 

The company said up to 100 of its forecourts were short of at least one grade of fuel. It has started rationing petrol,

Several have been forced to close entirely due to problems with supplies.

Petrol stations on motorways and major roads are being prioritised for fuel deliveries.

The crisis comes on top of families facing soaring energy bills and empty shelves at supermarkets.

But Downing Street told people to "not panic" and to continue to buy fuel "as normal".

We obviously recognise the challenges faced by the industry and we’re taking steps to support them

A No10 spokesman said: "We obviously recognise the challenges faced by the industry and we’re taking steps to support them.

"We acknowledge there are issues facing many industries across the UK, and not just in terms of HGV drivers."

Some Tesco stations were also closed off amid calls to rip up immigration laws so foreign drivers can return.

Meanwhile, Tesco said gaps on store shelves will get “ten times worse” by Christmas.

The boss of the 50-venue City Pub Group warned that prices will rise after a surge in running costs.

And a million customers of two failed energy firms await new suppliers.

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