Motorists are being urged to stop the panic buying which is helping to create a shortage. The plea has been made by the Government’s Environment Secretary George Eustice who believes it would help supplies return to normal usage levels. Garages report selling two weeks’ supply in four days.
The surge in demand comes amid fears that a shortage of tanker drivers could hit the delivery of fuel. There are no shortages of fuel at the refineries themselves.
Frustrated motorists hunting for fuel in Tunbridge Wells this week have faced mile long queues and empty pumps as all the garages, at some point, put up closed signs.
One of the key roads through Tunbridge Wells was gridlocked as motorists running on empty waited to fill up after there were fresh deliveries.
St John’s Road in Tunbridge Wells saw traffic begin queuing before 6am when the Shell station reopened on Tuesday morning after receiving a delivery of diesel.
By rush hour the queue stretched for a mile with traffic having to weave around the queues as anxious drivers lined the side of the road.
The mini-roundabout on Mount Ephraim was also jammed as drivers attempted to turnaround to join the queue to fill up.
A number of stations that have fuel have now begun rationing it, with some of the supermarkets setting a £30 limit.
The independently run Esso petrol station on the Eridge Road was also reported to have put up signs prioritising key workers.
Most petrol stations have increased their prices with petrol now costing in excess of £1.38 per litre and diesel more than £1.46 a litre at some stations.
The crisis began in Tunbridge Wells early last week, with people on social media reporting petrol stations in the town had run dry.
By Thursday [September 23] all of the petrol stations in Tunbridge Wells had run out, forcing many motorists to drive to Tonbridge, causing long queues and gridlock around Sainsbury’s.
By then, petrol giant BP admitted it had to close a ‘small number’ of sites and that the national HGV driver shortage affected its supply chain. Panic buying saw stations across the UK affected.
At the weekend, when word leaked that a delivery of fuel was due and would go on sale at Sainsbury’s in Tunbridge Wells at 8.30am on Sunday, drivers were advised to start forming a line at 7am to make sure they were able to fill up.
In St John’s the BP and Shell garages were closed by Saturday night although both the Waitrose and M&S food shops at the locations were open.
Buses have been delayed between Sevenoaks, Paddock Wood and Tunbridge Wells due to the congestion on the roads.
Late on Monday, Ministers announced that soldiers were being put on standby to deliver fuel, amid concerns that a shortage of tanker drivers was threatening the ability of the oil companies to maintain supplies.
Police say there have been no reports of the petrol crisis causing any criminal related incidents in the Tunbridge Wells area, although other forces have reported forecourt altercations as frustrated motorists took to exchanging blows over fuel.
Social media has been awash with adverse comment about the fuel shortage