Priority for 29 essential services at restocked forecourts

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Details of the steps being taken to ensure that essential users are given access to fuel were announced today.

Details of the steps being taken to ensure that essential users are given access to fuel were announced today.

People in 29 priority service categories will be able to obtain fuel from 298 designated petrol stations throughout the country.

These arrangements will come into operation during the day, secretary of state for trade and industry Stephen Byers said.

These essential users will be able to go to one of the 298 petrol stations which will be manned by local authority staff and there will be police present, the DTI said. They must produce identification to confirm their occupation and the purpose of their journey in order to obtain fuel for their vehicles.

Oil companies are initially concentrating on urgently stocking these 298 sites. As this is completed, the oil companies will then stock the remaining 2,200 filling station which are designated sites. Use of these approximately 2,200 petrol stations will not be confined to essential users.

A telephone helpline has also been set up on 0345 345005.

Mr Byers said: "We would ask members of the public to understand that priority must be given to these services, which are essential to the life of the country. We would ask that only those who meet the criteria we have set out today go to the 298 designated stations.

"We hope to restore a normal service as soon as possible but it is inevitable that the pace at which petrol stations are re-stocked will vary region by region depending on the volume of fuel coming out of the refineries in each region. A return to full stocks will not happen overnight. We would ask people to be patient until normal services are resumed."

As well as the arrangements outlined today, there is a group of priority fuel-users who regularly obtain fuel from depots rather than public petrol stations. These organisations should continue to use their depots to access fuel as normal, he said. The oil companies are also stocking these depots as a matter of urgency.

The 29 priority categories are users involved in:

1. Performance of functions of the police or the armed forces, or operation of the fire services.

2. Operation of health or social services.

3. Manufacture, processing, storage, packaging, distribution or sale of food including milk, milk products, animal feeding stuffs, pet foods or salt.

4. Movement or slaughter of livestock for the production of food or of animal feeding stuffs or for veterinary reasons.

5. Essential operations at nuclear sites.

6. Maintenance of water supplies or operation of sewage and drainage services.

7. Production, supply, distribution or transmission of solid or liquid fuel, or gas or electricity in the course of business, or provision of emergency services to consumers of such fuels.

8. Operation of buses, railways, tramways, docks or harbours.

9. Operation of any of the following transport services -

(i) coach or bus services (excluding excursions or tours);

(ii) services provided by employers of labour for taking their employees to or from their work by means of vehicles adapted to carry eight or more passengers;

(iii) airport bus services.

10. Operation of air traffic control, air navigation and civil airline services or air marine safety or navigational services.

11. Marine safety, navigational (including pilotage), shipping and ferry services.

12. Search and rescue services including coastguard and lifeboat services.

13. Production or distribution of medical or pharmaceutical supplies.

14. Operation of postal and telecommunications services (including broadcasting, newspaper production and distribution).

15. Transmission of money or of social security and other essential official payments or documents.

16. Movement or delivery of cash or cheques.

17. Operation of payment, clearing or settlement services.

18. Agriculture or horticulture for the production of food or animal feeding stuffs.

19. Operation of fishing vessels.

20. Manufacture or distribution of ice or dry ice for use in the food trades.

21. Essential central government and local government functions.

22. Administration of justice, including the operation of prison services and electronic tagging services.

23. Environmental and environmental health services and related emergencies.

24. Funeral services including cremation.

25. Refuse collection and disposal.

26. Industrial processes involving hazardous or radioactive substances, including transportation.

27. Veterinary services.

28. Operation (including heating) of special schools or colleges for the handicapped.

29. Foreign diplomatic missions for essential purposes.