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Military tanker drivers are finally to be deployed to deliver fuel to forecourts across the country from Monday despite ministers claiming the crisis at the pumps was coming to an end.
Almost 200 military personnel – including 100 drivers – have been undertaking training at haulier sites and will start deliveries to help relieve the situation, which the government insists is stabilising.
On Thursday, Treasury chief secretary Simon Clarke told Sky News: “We are in a situation now where more fuel is being delivered to petrol stations than is being sold so that crisis is now absolutely back under control.”
But retailers disputed the suggestion, arguing they were running out of fuel faster than they can be resupplied.
It was also announced that a temporary visa scheme for foreign HGV drivers that was due to expire on December 24 will now be extended to the end of February, following criticism of the attractiveness to drivers of its length.
The government said 300 fuel drivers will be able to come to the UK from overseas “immediately” under a bespoke temporary visa which will last until March, and that 4,700 other visas intended for foreign food haulage drivers will be extended beyond the initially announced three months and will last from late October to the end of February.
The government said that demand for fuel has stabilised and there is now more being delivered than sold, but that some parts of the country still face challenges.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay said: “The government has taken decisive action to tackle the short-term disruption to our supply chains, and in particular the flow of fuel to forecourts.
“We are now seeing the impact of these interventions with more fuel being delivered to forecourts than sold and, if people continue to…