Greenergy lorry

The government has launched a consultation on whether fuel tankers should be allowed to carry more fuel in a bid to strengthen the UK’s fuel supply chain.

The consultation will explore whether fuel tankers will be allowed to carry more fuel if there is disruption to the fuel supply chain.

Most fuel tankers operate with spare tank capacity due to the 44-tonne weight limit. According to the government the potential to allow tankers to operate to their full design train weight could increase the efficiency of the fuel supply chain by about 6%.

Roads minister Richard Holden said: “Thanks to the government’s bold measures to support the sector, our country has now an even stronger haulage supply chain.

“We will continue to work with and listen to the sector to ensure our forecourts are always well stocked and motorists can fill up with confidence.”

Any increase in fuel capacity would apply only to fuel tankers equipped with appropriate safety features, such as vehicle stability functionality and advanced emergency braking systems.

Routes to be used by these heavier tankers would have to be agreed in advance to ensure the road infrastructure can accommodate the fuel tankers operating at full capacity.

An assessment of the proposals by National Highways indicates that the increase in safety risks would be extremely small and any risk of infrastructure damage would be effectively managed.

This latest proposal is part of the government’s drive to tackle the HGV driver shortage and to protect the supply chain. Actions already taken include:

  • making 11,000 HGV driver training places available through Skills Bootcamps;
  • boosting to the number of HGV driver tests available;
  • investing £52.5m in improvements in roadside facilities and lorry parking.

It claims this has resulted in new HGV drivers are taking and passing their driving test in record numbers. Between March 2022 and May 2022, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) carried out 29,384 HGV tests – 54% more than the corresponding period in 2019 before the pandemic.

Have your say on increasing the weight limit for fuel tankers.