The Army is ready to help ease fuel supply problems after a
fourth day of long queues and pump closures.
Up to 150 military tanker drivers will prepare to deliver to
forecourts which have run dry because of panic buying.
The surge in demand came amid fears a driver shortage would hit
fuel supply - which is plentiful at refineries.
The transport secretary said there were "tentative signs" of
stabilisation in petrol stations and queues would start to
reflect this in the coming days.
Grant Shapps said: "Once we all return to our normal buying
habits... the quicker we get back to normality."
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) said there were "early
signs" the pressure on petrol stations was starting to ease,
The organisation, which represents nearly 5,500 of the UK's
8,000 stations, said around 37% of its sites had run out of
fuel. That is a big improvement on the situation on Sunday, when
two-thirds had run dry.
"With regular restocks taking place, this percentage [of petrol
stations with fuel] is likely to improve further over the next
24 hours," it added in a statement.
The UK is estimated to be short of more than 100,000 lorry
drivers - causing problems for a range of industries, including
food suppliers and supermarkets, in recent months.
The government has said people needlessly buying fuel has led to
queues at many forecourts, with fuel running out in some places.
But there are growing calls for key workers, such as health and
social care staff, to receive priority access to available fuel
after some reported not being able to get to work due to the
Daniyal Ahsan, a junior doctor in London, told the BBC he went
to 17 petrol stations after work on Monday in search of fuel -
but wasn't able to get any, leaving him concerned about how this
would affect his patients. He has since been able to fill up his
Dr Jane Townson, chief executive of UK Homecare Association,
warned that some people who depend on carers for tasks like
taking pain medication could die if they are left without help.
Roger Grosvenor, of the East of England Co-op petrol stations,
told the BBC the group would create a daily priority hour for
emergency workers if fuel supply problems had not eased by
Motoring group the RAC said the price of a litre of unleaded
petrol had risen by a penny since Friday to an eight-year high -
and knew a small number of retailers had been hiking prices amid
the soaring demand.
It added it had seen a "sharp increase" in the number of drivers
who had broken down after running out of fuel - with engineers
attending twice as many breakdowns on Monday than it would
normally see over a whole week.
The AA motoring organisation said it had seen a "dramatic rise"
in motorists putting the wrong fuel in vehicles compared to last