The government’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has been slammed for publishing "dangerously misleading" comments on the security of UK fuel supplies.

Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA) chairman, Brian Madderson, said: "The press release issued by DECC commenting on the Deloitte Report ’Study of the UK Retail Fuels Market’ fails to highlight the serious structural issues in the market."

Madderson continued: "Such issues were noted in the report yet DECC offers the dangerously misleading conclusion by stating ’in the event of a total disruption to petrol and diesel supplies, the retail sector holds up to eight days of fuel capacity to meet current demand’."

Madderson said the Deloitte report, which was commissioned by DECC, "indisputably confirms that the majority of fuel forecourts are running with dangerously low levels of stock and that the continued closure of forecourts is reducing onsite storage capacity across the country."

He said the study showed independents were being forced to cut back stock levels to control working capital costs.

He explained: "Most businesses have to pay the tax within one to three days of a stock delivery before they have chance to collect the tax from their customers, so their only option is to run their fuel storage close to empty.

"Why does the government offer deferred duty arrangements to the big oil companies that are best placed to pay immediately, yet not to small independents?"

He added: "Independent forecourts only hold two to four days stock on site to meet normal demand levels. It could be six to 10 days if the government moved the duty point from the terminal to the point-of-sale. After all, we are trusted to collect VAT at the pumps, why not duty too?"