12 September 2005

Petrol Panic Reaches UK...

The prices that Americans currently pay for petrol, pale in comparison to what Europeans have regularly paid during the last decade...


'Minimum Buy' To Fight Fuel Panic
Motorists may have to make a "minimum purchase" at petrol pumps to prevent panic-buying in the event of refinery blockades, fuel retailers have warned.

Ray Holloway, director of the Petrol Retailers Association, said drivers queued needlessly with nearly-full tanks during the fuel protests in 2000.

A government-set minimum purchase could help prevent similar scenes, he said.

Protests against the fuel tax are being planned after the price of unleaded reached £1 a litre in parts of the UK.

Mr Holloway told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that trading at the weekend was "heavy" but denied panic-buying had taken place.

Tax rises

He said there is an adequate quantity of motor fuel available in the UK.

"Learning from the lessons of last time, what happened was that motorists actually started forming queues at filling stations to buy quantities of fuel that they couldn't actually get into their tanks," he added.

"This is a case of producing a minimum purchase probably, that will mean that the motorist will actually be buying a set quantity set by the government which will reflect the crisis at a moment in time."

Mr Holloway said that unlike in 2000 the rise in the cost of fuel is being created by soaring oil prices and not taxes.

Restricted openings

The government, meanwhile, has reportedly discussed plans to deal with a threat to fuel supplies.

Ministers are said to have debated the issues - including the possibility of petrol rationing - at a meeting last week.

A Department of Trade and Industry document details measures including purchase limits, restricted opening hours, and moves "to discourage motorists from the practice of topping up their fuel tanks at frequent intervals".

Chancellor Gordon Brown told the BBC that the DTI document was about normal contingency planning to deal with a "natural problem" and not specific to any fuel protest.

"The way we will deal with this is in a common sense and stable and effective way and I think it is by identifying what the real problem is," he said.

"And I think that hauliers as well as the farmers who depend on fuel understand that the real problem is a global challenge."

Roger King, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said there was a "very strong case" for the government to reduce fuel duty, particularly for commercial vehicle operators.

"We don't necessarily think a great deal is going to be benefited by protests as described, but we understand the feeling of hauliers and it does help to underline the difficulties the industry currently faces" he said.

He said VAT receipts on petrol purchases increased as the price went up, "so there is scope there for the chancellor to introduce a temporary measure, to take the worst of these price increases away".

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/12 09:30:43 GMT



Post a Comment

<< Home