Lord Hunt, the energy minister, is to meet industrialists in London tomorrow in a bid to calm mounting fears about the disruption that could follow a sudden shortage of oil supplies.
In a significant policy shift, the government has agreed to undertake more work on whether the UK needs to take action to avoid the massive dislocation that could be caused by the early onset of "peak oil" – the point that marks the start of terminal decline in global oil production.
Jeremy Leggett, the executive chairman of the renewable power company Solar Century and a leading figure in the UK industry taskforce on peak oil and energy security, said the meeting, to be held at the Energy Institute, showed a welcome new sense of urgency.
"Government has gone from the BP position – '40 years of supply left, the price mechanism works, no need to worry' – to 'crikey'," he said. "BP and others are telling us that, but you lot, Virgin, Scottish and Southern, and ...