Prime Minister David Cameron will chair a ministerial meeting this afternoon to discuss contingency plans in the event of a fuel strike.
It comes as more than 1,000 tanker drivers at the union Unite voted for strike action on Monday, threatening the fuel supply to forecourts and private business depots around the country.
The Government is at pains to avoid scenes of chaos seen at the fuel blockade in 2000. Downing Street is advising people to “be prudent and plan” but denied it was promoting “panic-buying”.
Earlier this week Energy Secretary Ed Davey – who will be at the meeting – wrote to Unite’s Assisant General Secretary Diana Holland to ask the union to come to the negotiating table.
He has said: “While it isn’t the Government’s role to intervene in [industrial] disputes we take health and safety very seriously.”
The independent mediator ACAS has also been asked to step into the dispute.
The Freight Transport Association has raised concern some of its larger customers will have major problems with fuel supply.
DECC played down the potential problems, saying there is no date for a strike as yet, adding the union must give seven days’ notice for any action.
A spokesman said: “Any big organisation will have given thought to its contingency arrangements… There’s nothing generic we can advise, as every organisation is different.”