Bus firms are again reporting delays to services in south Essex this morning due to long queues at fuel stations.

First Essex has warned it is unable to serve the Tesco store in Pitsea due to the panic buying, while its number 21 service is diverting past Manor Road in South Benfleet due to traffic queueing for petrol in both directions.

Arriva has also warned its 1 services are being diverted because of congestion in Southchurch Avenue – which is again being caused by panic buying.

The diversion is between the Old Walnut and Southchurch Ave Corner via Southchurch Avenue, Woodgrange Drive, Lifstan Way.

The firm has also warned of delays to other services.

In a tweet this morning, it said: “Please expect major delays and curtailments today due to members of the public panic buying fuel and blocking the bus routes.

“We apologise for this circumstance that is out of our control.”

It comes as army tanker drivers have been put on standby to help step in and ease the pressure at the pumps.

Military drivers will get specialised training in preparation for their deployment while certain HGV licences will be extended to help tackle the issue, ministers announced on Monday.

An extension to ADR driver licences permitting drivers to maximise their available capacity instead of being taken out of circulation for refresher training purposes was also announced.

The move comes after many filling stations ran dry after drivers made a dash for the pumps amid fears a shortage of tanker drivers would hit supplies.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The men and women of our armed forces stand ready to alleviate the transport pressures where they are felt most.

“That is why I have authorised their increased preparedness so they are ready to respond if needed.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who issued the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities request, added: “While the fuel industry expects demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days, it’s right that we take this sensible, precautionary step.

“The UK continues to have strong supplies of fuel, however we are aware of supply chain issues at fuel station forecourts and are taking steps to ease these as a matter of priority.

“If required, the deployment of military personnel will provide the supply chain with additional capacity as a temporary measure to help ease pressures caused by spikes in localised demand for fuel.”

The Army tanker drivers will deliver fuel to where it is needed most, and and provide, and provide reassurance that supplies remain strong, the Government said.