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BBC Scotland's Martha Fairlie reports
"There was a unanimous decision to stay here tonight and continue with their protest"
 real 56k

Alan Mackay reports from Grangemouth
"There are dissenting voices among the protesters"
 real 56k

Gillian Marles reports on the economic impact
"Businesses estimate the dispute has cost them millions"
 real 56k

BBC Scotland's Louise Batchelor reports
"While motorists struggle public transport is making a faster recovery"
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Thursday, 14 September, 2000, 20:57 GMT 21:57 UK
Fuel protesters resume refinery action
Police removing banner
Police remove a protest banner at Grangemouth
Fuel protesters have voted to resume their action outside the Grangemouth oil refinery.

The demonstration had been called off on Thursday morning, a move which was welcomed by First Minister Donald Dewar when he made an emergency statement to the Scottish Parliament.

But the decision angered local haulier David Heeps, who claimed that people felt they had been "stabbed in the back".

He said the decision was taken by too small a number and called for supporters to turn out on Thursday evening to show if there was backing for continued action.

David Heeps
David Heeps: "Stabbed in the back"
About 100 people turned out at the refinery - significantly less than the 500 who voted the previous night to continue action.

But a vote at 2000 BST ended with the unanimous decision that the protesters would stay put at the site.

However, they were not making any efforts to stop the tankers which had been departing from the refinery regularly during the day.

Supplies started rolling out of Grangemouth at a rate of 20 tankers an hour after the protest was called off - even though drivers remained concerned about their safety.

With each tanker carrying 30,000 litres of fuel, one said: "It only takes one lunatic dropping a brick from a fly-over and my son is without a father."

Tanker filling petrol station
Tankers are back on the roads
Up to 200 of Scotland's 1250 petrol stations will have received a delivery by midnight on Thursday, although there are fears that they will run dry quickly because of panic buying.

Douglas Robertson, who speaks for the Petrol Retailers' Association in Scotland, urged drivers to only take what they need - or else shortages would continue for longer.

Earlier, Mr Dewar told the parliament that Scotland had been "taken to the edge" by the fuel protests which threatened to cripple the country.

Difficulties remain

But he warned that some areas would have to wait until next week before supplies were restored - and asked the public to allow priority users the first access to the fresh supplies.

Mr Dewar expressed his relief at that morning's news that the Grangemouth protest had been called off.

"I must emphasise the seriousness of the situation and the difficulties that remain," he said.

"We were taken to the edge, and even now there is likely to be a great deal of inconvenience, dislocation and financial loss, which I regret."

I would appeal to the public to refrain from unnecessary purchases of fuel and other goods, such as foodstuffs

Donald Dewar, First Minister
Efforts were being made to return the supplies to normal and extra tankers and drivers had been drafted in.

Tankers were moving from Grangemouth every few minutes, but it would take time to get things back to normal.

"The estimate we have been given is that it might be early next week before supplies are restored in all parts of the country," he said.

The first deliveries were going to priority users, such as emergency and essential services, utilities and transportation companies.

Guidelines would be issued to ensure that the supplies found their way to priority users.

"I would appeal to the public to refrain from unnecessary purchases of fuel and other goods, such as foodstuffs," he said, warning that further panic buying would only extend the atmosphere of crisis.

"It has been an enormously difficult time and there are doubtless lessons to be learned," he said.

Rationing sales

Health Minister Susan Deacon said the end of the Grangemouth demonstration was "encouraging" but sounded a note of caution.

"I want to wait and see what happens in the coming hours before we can give any guarantees about what it means for the health service across Scotland," she said.

Food retailers also welcomed the end of the protest but at least one major supermarket, Safeway, is rationing bread and milk sales.

Jim Botterill, of the Scottish Grocers Federation, said supplies of bread, milk, fruit and vegetables had been getting through to stores but delivery schedules were badly disrupted.

Donald Dewar
Donald Dewar: "Lessons to be learned"
Suppliers had assured the federation that they had enough fuel to last until early next week.

"If the public use a little bit of restraint at the moment, now that the dispute is settled, by the middle of next week I would hope that things would be back to normality," he said.

CBI Scotland spokesman Ian MacMillan said: "Some manufacturers have virtually come to a standstill because components in have not been arriving and finished goods have not been leaving factories.

"Supplies to supermarkets and other shops have been slowing dramatically towards this point in time.

"In our view the situation was very, very serious but it was heading for a catastrophe.

"Fortunately, that now appears to have been averted."

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See also:

14 Sep 00 | Scotland
Key services given fuel priority
14 Sep 00 | Scotland
Grangemouth picket called off
14 Sep 00 | UK
UK fuel blockades tumble
13 Sep 00 | Scotland
Petrol protest backed by vote
13 Sep 00 | Scotland
Fishermen join protest action
13 Sep 00 | Scotland
Scotland's fuel hotspots
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