Norfolk wakes up to empty pumps – despite assurances of ‘ample fuel stocks’
- Credit: SUBMITTED
Empty petrol pumps, closed forecourts, and queues of traffic are the scenes many are waking up to across the county this morning – despite government pleas to stop panic-buying fuel.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has urged drivers not to panic-buy amid chaotic scenes at stations across both Norfolk and the rest of the country, as people continue to queue for fuel.
While a number of forecourts had run out of fuel, there were still some open selling both petrol and diesel.
In Dereham, drivers were seen queuing at 5am outside Tesco fuel station, while traffic began to build up from 6.30am outside the town’s Morrisons station.
In Norwich, staff at the Jet Garage on Plumstead Road East confirmed that the station had run out of fuel on Friday and would not have more until Monday. It was the same situation at the Jet Garage on Rose Lane.
Queues had already built up by 8am at Earlham Fiveways, while a sign informed drivers that there was no diesel available.
Tesco on Blue Boar Lane had already put up signs saying it had run out of fuel at 7am. Cars were seen circling the car park before quickly exiting upon seeing the sign.
It was a similar story at Tesco at Hardford Bridge, where staff in high vis were directing motorists as they approach the entrance.
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The Shell Garage on Ipswich Road had fuel available and queues were also building up by around 8am.
The BP garage at the Tuckswood roundabout on Hall Road has fuel, although some pumps are shut. There are also queues.
The filling station at Asda on Hall Road is completely closed, while Sainsburys on Queen's Road has signs out informing drivers it has no diesel or unleaded available.
And at Morrisons at Riverside, a hastily drawn ‘no fuel’ sign was on display, with disappointed drivers again seen making u-turns and exiting the car park.
Elsewhere, the BP on the A11 heading southbound is completely out of fuel and not expecting another delivery until later today (Saturday), after receiving a delivery only last night (Friday).
The BP on the A11 heading northbound has some fuel left, and there are only "very few" queuing.
Sainsbury's on London Road, Thetford, has run out and the forecourt is coned off, while the Shell garage on Mundford Road remains busy with drivers blocking the road to get into the station.
Tesco on the A1075 is also busy. Fuel is available but there is a long queue snaking around the car park. Staff are greeting drivers and instructing them to queue up.
The BP on the A1075 coned off and closed.
One driver, who wished to remain anonymous, reported having to syphon heating oil from their tank at home in order to refill their vehicle to get to work.
The same driver added: "As I drove into Norwich at around 8pm [yesterday], there were dozens of cars queued back from the Applegreen station, near the airport, all past the traffic lights there. It was dangerous as hell.
"By the time I left the city at around 10.30pm, the station on Aylsham Road had no diesel and there were still queues at Applegreen. Nightmare."
Many drivers have also taken to social media to ask where best to go to refuel, while NHS workers and carers pleaded with people to “stop being selfish” as they feared being unable to get to work to look after Norfolk's most vulnerable.
A statement issued by Downing Street last night (Friday) said: “We have ample fuel stocks in this country and the public should be reassured there are no shortages.
“But like countries around the world, we are suffering from a temporary Covid related shortage of drivers needed to move supplies around the country.
“We’re looking at temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly time-limited.
“We are moving to a high wage, high skilled economy and businesses will need to adapt with more investment in recruitment and training to provide long-term resilience.”
Other providers, including Esso and BP, have also been affected by challenges getting petrol deliveries across the country.
BP said that around 20 or its 1,200 forecourts in the UK were closed due to a lack of available fuel, and between 50 and 100 sites have been affected by the loss of at least one grade of fuel.
Esso owner ExxonMobil said a “small number” of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted.
And Norfolk police issued a warning to motorists blocking roads. Taking to social media, Norfolk Constabulary issued this statement to its Twitter followers:
“We are aware of drivers queuing at some petrol stations in Norfolk. Keeping highways clear is essential for public services but particularly emergency responders and hindering them could cause a public health risk. Please follow the latest government guidance around buying fuel.”
While some forecourts have issues limits on the amount individuals can put into their cars, other petrol stations have been forced to close. Many have confirmed that the limits will not apply to emergency services and lorry drivers.
The government is also considering temporary measures to tackle the shortage of HGV drivers which is wreaking havoc on a number of UK industries.
No 10 insisted on Friday, September 24 that any measures introduced would be "very strictly time-limited" amid reports that Boris Johnson had allowed ministers to relax UK immigration rules to allow more foreign drivers into the country.
And although Downing Street would not confirm whether any decisions had been made, Mr Shapps earlier promised to "move heaven and earth" to get the situation solved.
Ministers have met to discuss the plans, with reports suggesting the final sign-off could come this weekend.
It comes as the CBI called for ministers to establish a taskforce on the same level as the Cobra emergency committee to deal with supply issues which have seen petrol forecourts close and empty shelves in supermarkets.
And there have been warnings that disruption to festive preparations will be "inevitable" if progress is not made to solve the shortfall of around 90,000 lorry drivers."