Fuel protests hit East Anglian supplies more than other areas

Fuel protesters

Just Stop Oil protests have caused problems at filling stations. - Credit: PA

Fuel shortages are causing more problems for drivers in East Anglia than in other parts of southern England according to new figures from the government.

Garages in the East of England were only 19% full of petrol at the start of the week and 23% full of diesel - pre-pandemic it was "normal" for them to operate at about 40% full of petrol and 48% of diesel.

That is better than the 12% petrol figure recorded at garages in the region during last autumn's fuel shortages but it is lower than many other parts of the country.

Climate change activists continue to disrupt fuel supplies by blocking oil terminals. 

In the South East region garages are 21% full with petrol and 26% full of diesel while in London the figures are 22% and 24%.

The figures have been compiled by the government's Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

While most have been able to stay on the road, drivers are having to change their habits and fill up when they can. Although the petrol figure is lower than diesel, most drivers have found it easier to find petrol than diesel on forecourts.

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East Anglia appears to be particularly badly hit because much of its fuel comes from refineries in south Essex beside the Thames estuary - they have been among the worst affected by the "Just Stop Oil" protests of the last two weeks.

Essex police have arrested well over 300 protesters in the area - but action is still continuing.

Martin Gomersall, head of transport at Magnus Group

Martin Gomersall, head of transport at Magnus Group - Credit: Mark Coventry/ Magnus Group

Martin Gomersall, head of transport at the Magnus Group which is based at Great Blakenham, said getting supplies continued to be challenging - the company was supposed to have had a delivery of 50,000 litres to its depot last weekend but in the event only got 10,000.

His fleet also relies on filling up at service stations when vehicles are on the road and the instructions to drivers had changed.

Some of the lorries driven by Magnus Group

Magnus Group lorries fill up at their depot - and also at service stations. - Credit: Magnus Group

He said: "Drivers are now told to take the opportunity to fill up whenever they can, even if they would normally wait until they are nearly empty. There is fuel out there but you often find service stations are out of diesel and you don't want to run out.

"Another thing is that if you see somewhere with fuel then word will quickly get around and drivers from a wide area will go there - so it often doesn't last long. You do need to take the opportunities to fill up."

The changes to driving behaviour are helping to contribute to the increase in costs. Anchor Freight, of Ipswich, does not run its own vehicles, but has noticed prices rising as supply lines become more difficult.

Scott Dixon from the company said: "We are still able to move things about but we have noticed prices go up significantly with all the factors that have come in - and that will eventually be passed on by customers in their prices."

While climate activists have been causing some disruption to the fuel industry, the Fuel Retailers Association – which represents independently owned forecourts in the UK – said “the majority are unaffected” by the activism.