Panic-buying as petrol protests sweep Britain

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Long queues outside a Birmingham petrol station, 12 September 2005.

Long queues are forming outside UK petrol stations as motorists rush to buy fuel ahead of protests against fuel tax.

Consumer groups such as 'The Fuel Lobby', the group behind the fuel protests in 2000, have given conflicting reports on plans to blockade refineries to prevent supply of petrol stations. Action started at 6am this morning, with a low turnout of protesters at refineries. Further protests are planned at forecourts and on various roads for the remainder of the week. Welsh protesters plan a 20mph rolling roadblock on the M4 motorway, starting at 7am on Friday, September 16.

The government has told the public there are enough petrol supplies to last for 80 days, but petrol stations themselves may be set to run out much faster as large numbers of people fill up their tanks in anticipation of shortages. An eyewitness has said that as well as filling up their vehicle tanks, people are taking spare tanks.

Bill Johnson, a petrol station manager in Cornwall, told the Guardian that he found it necessary to restrict petrol supplies to account holders only. He said: "They were shouting, 'You fucking bastards, I've got to get to work.' It wasn't pretty, people are just getting greedy."

Matthew Carrington of the Petrol Retailers' Association called on Gordon Brown to reduce tax. "His tax take goes up as the price goes up, " he said.


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