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Gas rationing alert: Rural families warned over big freeze

Thousands of families who rely on gas deliveries by tanker have been warned to start rationing after freezing weather hit efforts to clear a backlog in supplies.

Up to 200,000 homes, mainly in rural areas, are off the energy grid and have to use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

They already faced shortages after problems with a North Sea gas pipeline, along with three refinery closures for maintenance earlier this year.

Now the return of snow and ice following the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma at the beginning of the month has left tankers battling to make deliveries to remote areas. The cold snap has inevitably also caused a spike in the use of LPG for heating.

More than 6,000 households are thought to have run out of gas at one point in recent weeks. However, their misery will hopefully be short-lived as Britain warms up this week, with temperatures set to match the south of France.

Thousands of families who rely on Liquefied Petroleum Gas deliveries by tanker have been warned to start rationing after freezing weather hit efforts to clear a backlog in supplies (file photo)

Snow wreaked havoc across the country yesterday after another freezing weekend, with as much as 6in falling in Hereford and 5in in Dunkeswell, east Devon, although snow drifts in some areas are likely to have been much deeper.

The blizzards saw flights cancelled and rural communities cut off. The worst disruption was in the West Country, where 4ft snow drifts forced police to close 65 miles of the A30 from Exeter.

A yellow warning for ice is in place until 9am today across most of England and Wales, but warmer weather is expected to bring rapid thawing. Temperatures are predicted to climb to 9C (48F) in the South during the day and by Thursday the mercury is expected to reach 11C (52F) – the same as Marseille in the south of France.

While the Met Office says conditions will ‘start to feel spring-like’, it is warning of wet and windy weather from Friday to Sunday.

Amid the LPG crisis, major gas supplier Calor’s chief executive has advised customers whose tanks are running low to ration their supplies. Matthew Hickin said in a letter: ‘If you are currently awaiting a delivery, may I ask that you please use your gas carefully during this period so we can get to your property before you run out.

‘This is not an easy thing to ask of you, but as we are taking longer than usual to deliver gas it is prudent to make this request.’

Other major suppliers, Flogas and AvantiGas, are also struggling to clear the supply backlog, which affects the whole country but is worst in the south-east, south-west, Wales and Scotland.

Families have expressed their anger online. Calor customer Beth Birkin complained via the Trustpilot website yesterday that she has been without gas for two days, saying: ‘Appalling service.’

Another wrote: ‘Elderly mother (83 years of age) ran out of gas last week – she is freezing and they can’t deliver until tomorrow.’