RMI Petrol chairman Brian Madderson has today written to the government urging a halt on the fuel duty escalator and warning of people becoming hostile to the level of price increases expected in January.

The plea is being given more weight by widespread media interviews, which were kickstarted on Tuesday evening with an interview on Sky News’ Jeff Randall Live show.

Directly following an interview with transport secretary Philip Hammond, Madderson called for the government to “stop the legacy of your predecessors and cut the fuel duty escalator now”, and blamed the network’s difficulties during the adverse weather on the shrinking number of forecourts across the country.

Madderson told Randall: “We are saying to the government to be mindful of the fact that over the past 20 years some 11,000 forecourts across the UK have closed for business. If each forecourt has 50,000 litres in their tanks that’s half a billion litres of fuel which is no longer available to the motorist in a crisis such as we’ve been having with this arctic weather.

“This is making the whole logistical supply chain less resilient than it once was. This duty escalator is certainly causing real problems in rural communities and that’s where the main closures are taking place.”

Madderson said that since the first bout of snow a few weeks ago, supplies were now under control and motorists were behaving more sensibly during the adverse weather this week.

“There have been fewer incidences of panic buying and, anecdotally, retailers are saying that volumes have dropped quite considerably,” said Madderson. “People are not out there buying a lot of fuel, particularly in the snow hit areas, and that’s given the oil companies and distributors a chance to get out and put more fuel underground.”