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The BBC's Carissa Bub
"They seem to have gathered public support"
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Freight Transport Association, Geoff Dossetter
"You are taking too much Mr Brown"
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Sunday, 10 September, 2000, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
UK protests trigger fuel shortages
Motorists queue for petrol at a Merseyside petrol station
Drivers queued to fill up in Liverpool
The effects of the blockades of fuel depots in England and Wales are beginning to be felt, but Chancellor Gordon Brown has warned that the government will not be swayed.

Shell says up to 30 of its petrol stations in the north-west of England are running out of fuel as a result of protests at the Ellesmere Port oil refinery in Cheshire.


Decisions in Britain are made in budgets, they are not made as a result of blockades

Gordon Brown
BP and Sainsbury's and Tesco supermarkets have also reported supply problems as protesters vent their anger at rising fuel prices.

New barricades went up on Saturday night in the South-West and in Greater Manchester, bringing the number of protest sites to six.

But retailers have sought to calm the situation amid reports of panic buying, saying a fuel crisis is unlikely.

A fresh wave of protest by hauliers and farmers, on Sunday, was expected to see the main road routes into Scotland blocked.

Dozens of vehicles were expected to block the A1 at Brownyside, north of Alnwick, Northumberland, as well as the A697 at Coldstream and the M6 north of Carlisle.

'More protests planned'

Farmer Charlie Armstrong, one of the organisers, said farmers from Scotland would cross the border to take part, and it was hoped they would be joined by bus companies.

He said: "We are going to block the A1 for an hour and then drive away very slowly.

"This is going to be the start of many similar protests here and we're going to carry on until we get some results."

The protest follows a similar blockade on the A1 at Gateshead on Friday which caused traffic chaos.

Protest at the main entrance of Texaco's Pembrokeshire refinery
Truckers block Texaco's Pembrokeshire refinery
The blockades came as Europe's finance ministers appealed to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) to reduce prices ahead of their meeting in Vienna on Sunday.

The British protests have apparently been inspired by direct action by French hauliers, taxi drivers and farmers which led their government to offer to cut tax on diesel.

However, Mr Brown said the UK pickets would not alter the price of fuel.

He said: "I think people do understand that decisions in Britain are made in budgets, they are not made as a result of blockades.

"And I think they also understand that when the price has gone from $10 a barrel to over $30 a barrel that the action which must be taken now is by the oil producers in Opec."

Petrol station queues

About 20 lorries and tractors began a blockade in Manchester on Saturday night, at the entrance to Manchester Fuel's terminal, in the Trafford Park area of the city.

The biggest UK protest has been at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, where two oil refineries run by Texaco and Elf have been blocked by about 50 lorries since Friday.

Shell Oil's Stanlow refinery at Ellesmere Port, and two distribution depots at Avonmouth near Bristol are also being targeted.

In addition to the 30 Shell petrol stations affected, Sainsbury's said two of its 223 petrol stations had run out of fuel and Tesco supermarkets on Merseyside reported customers queuing to fill up, fearing supplies were running low.

Situation 'not critical'

But Ray Holloway, director of the Petrol Retailers' Association, said that 30 or so filling stations out of 1,200 in the North West did not mean Britain was running out of petrol.

He told BBC News Online that companies were coping with the situation by using supplies from other refineries.

"The situation is not critical, it's not likely to become critical," he said.

Earlier BP had warned that one in seven of its 140 petrol stations in the North West were running short but later said most had been restocked with only a "handful" left empty.

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See also:

10 Sep 00 | Business
Opec pressured over oil prices
09 Sep 00 | Europe
France emerges from fuel crisis
08 Sep 00 | Europe
Trapped Britons plan 'escape'
07 Sep 00 | Business
Petrol price rise anger
07 Sep 00 | Business
Oil price eases back
31 Aug 00 | Business
Oil markets explained
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