The Freight Transport Association says that the Government must make appropriate arrangements to protect the supply chain for diesel for use by UK industry in the event of the strike at the Grangemouth refinery leading to a loss of production for a sustained period. FTA says that although the transport industry is confident that adequate supplies of petrol and diesel are available in the short to medium term, there could be difficulties in the logistics required to move that fuel to the places where it is required.
FTA says that the Government should take early steps to provide for:- a temporary relaxation of EU drivers hours and working time hours rules in order to provide flexibility of available labour if required
the construction of a list of essential vehicle users who should be allowed priority supplies of fuel if the shortages become a problem
a contingency plan for dealing with the consequences of fuel shortages as required
FTA Director of External Affairs Geoff Dossetter said 'This morning (Friday 25 April), the Government's Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said that although there was plenty of fuel available, there could be problems with the logistics required to get it to the right places where it will be required. As such it makes sense to here and now plan for the possibility of a problem rather than put our trust in hopes that it will not be required.
'Almost everything that we use and consume every day is the product of a lorry journey and we need to ensure that there is diesel available to fuel those essential vehicles. FTA is reassured by statements from both the oil industry and the Government that a shortage of fuel is most unlikely. Nevertheless, there is the clear prospect of a big distribution job in getting that fuel to the right locations so let's acknowledge that and prepare for it now.
'Relaxing drivers hours regulations, preparing a list of essential users and creating a game-plan for dealing with possible problems are relatively easy measures to take and the Government should make these plans sooner than later'.
The Freight Transport Association represents the transport interests of companies moving goods by road, rail, sea and air. FTA members operate over 220,000 goods vehicles – almost half the UK fleet. In addition they consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail and over 70 per cent of sea and air freight. FTA's website can be found at www.fta.co.uk