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The United Kinhdom's heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers shortage has escalated dramatically since June, when nearly all chemical distributors, interviewed by the CBA trade group, reported a driver shortage in August.

The latest industry trade group survey found that 96% of companies report problems with road freight transport in the UK, up sharply from the 62% that reported problems in June.

It should be noted that across Europe as a whole, 78% of companies reported problems with road haulage.

The UK's Chemical Business Association (CBA) indicated it was concerned that a lack of drivers could affect key end-use sectors of chemicals that are also key to health and safety.

"The supply of chemicals for key business sectors such as water treatment, fuels and oil additives is likely to suffer from delays or cancellations of supplies, with serious implications for public health, the environment and economic growth," the CBA said in a briefing on Tuesday.

Tim Doggett, the trade group's CEO,  warned that the situation is more likely to get worse in the coming months. The CBA has asked the UK government to ease the issuance of work visas for foreign truck drivers, but its requirements have not been met.

In July, the UK cabinet relaxed rules on maximum hours truck drivers can work - a measure CBA considered at the time counterproductive and is unlikely to solve the underlying problem.

"Our expertise and focus remain within the chemicals supply chain and we believe the driver's shortage could get worse before it gets better," Doggett said.

"Since regulatory changes regarding water treatment are outside our purview, we cannot comment on this particular aspect."