Petrol retailers call for calm

Some filling stations warn they're already running empty

Fuel retailers have called on motorists to fill up as normal, and not panic buy petrol, as queues form at many of the region's forecourts.

One retailer in Gateshead said yesterday had been its busiest day in months, as motorists fill up ahead of a possible strike by tanker drivers. Some filling stations are concerned that panic buying will lead to their pumps running empty.

The government, which has been criticised for its handing of the situation, has called on motorists to only fill up when the tank becomes half empty.

Carole Johnson, who runs the Dunston Service Station on Tyneside, said: "People are panic buying and they don’t need to, because at the moment we don’t even know if this strike’s going to come off. Garages are running out of fuel purely because people are buying fuel that they don’t need.

“Just buy what you need, your normal fuel that you buy every week and we won’t have a problem.”According to the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI), petrol sales were up by 45% on Tuesday and diesel up 20% amid talk of a strike.

Hundreds of tanker drivers could walk out in a row over pay and working conditions. The Unite union, whose members supply 90% of forecourts, has voted in favour of a strike. But no date has been set, and the union has said it will give seven days' notice of any industrial action.