Some petrol retailers have begun rationin gfuel, as pumps on many forecourts run dry because of panic buying.

Long queues continued outside many garages, but managers reported a quieter day than on Thursday, when petrol and diesel sales trebled across the country.

But many garages were left deserted as the increased demand used up supplies before lunchtime. Distribution firms say fuel is being delivered as normal, as restrictions on tanker drivers' hours were relaxed to allow extra deliveries to be made.

But some garages have responded by capping the amount of petrol and diesel people can buy to prevent panic buying. The filling station in Stocksfield in Northumberland is restricting motorists to £20 per person, per day, after a busy two days.

The Unite union, whose tanker drivers have voted to strike, says no industrial action will be taken over the Easter weekend, ending fears of a rush to fill up ahead of the holiday period. Talks between the union and employers at the conciliation service, Acas, will begin on Monday to try to prevent a strike from taking place.

We are now in the process of receiving more detailed briefings from the parties on the various issues underpinning the dispute. This will enable us to determine more clearly the form substantive talks should take to provide the best opportunity for a negotiated settlement. We should conclude that process by Monday and would then hope substantive discussions would follow shortly afterwards.