The government is in talks with the oil industry to ensure the security of fuel supplies after a safety problem affecting about 12% of the British tanker fleet was discovered.
About 230 fuel tankers do not meet the standards required to transport dangerous goods by road and will need to be replaced or modified, the government has admitted.
In a written statement to Parliament, Transport minister Robert Goodwill said: “The Department for Transport is working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and industry to resolve an issue around the incorrect certification of a particular model of fuel tanker in operation in the UK.
“The tankers, manufactured in South Africa, and certified as meeting international standards by Bureau Veritas (SA), were first imported into the UK in 2006. Regrettably, they are not in full compliance with internationally-agreed regulations (the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road – ‘ADR’) and remedial action is being taken to resolve the issue.
“The department has an ongoing dialogue with industry to discuss proposals to replace or modify the tankers according to a schedule that ensures security of fuel supply while maintaining safety.
“Around 230 of the tankers are in operation in Great Britain and account for around 12% of the fleet of vehicles delivering road fuel. Some of these tankers have been on the road for over seven years and collectively they have travelled millions of miles without a serious incident.
“We are not complacent about the risks and it is important that this remedial work is carried out as soon as is practical. This would involve tankers over six years old being taken out of service first, with modifications on newer models to allow a staged withdrawal of these vehicles over subsequent months. Some haulage firms have already placed, in total, orders for about 100 new tankers.”