Fuel Storage Regulations



Fuel is a hazardous, highly combustible substance, so it’s imperative that you handle it with care, because if you choose not to, you could be in big trouble.

Over 15% of pollution incidents each year are reported to be caused by an oil spillage, and it’s one of the most common culprits. Oil can damage rivers and groundwater, harm marine life and plants and destroy natural habits.

To ensure safe storage, there are set regulations in place that you must follow. If you don’t, you can be served an anti-pollution works notice, or even worse, be prosecuted. There are different guidelines, depending on where you store your oil, which we discuss below.


If you have a new or replacement fuel container installed at your home, for example to fuel your cooker or central heating, you must meet England’s building regulations. Building regulations differ in ScotlandWales or Northern Ireland.


As a home, motor vehicle, boat or aircraft owner, you can store up to 30 litres of fuel without having to let anyone know. Different containers are required by law depending on how much oil you store:

✓ Up to 10 litres – plastic container
✓ Up to 20 litres – metal container
✓ Up to 30 litres – demountable fuel tank


You can store over 30 litres but less 275 litres of fuel, but you must let your local Petroleum Enforcement Authority (PEA) know in writing and include your name, address and storage location.


You can also store over 275 litres but less than 3500 litres, but you will require a petroleum storage certificate and a licence. To get your hands on one, you must again, contact your local PEA who will issue you one that lasts for up to 3 years and is not transferable.


✓ Do not store inside your house – the best place is in a shed or garage
✓ You must never dispense (or pump) manually/electrically from a storage tank at your premises
✓ You should aim to ensure your fuel is stored in open air. If not feasible then you need a direct exit to the open air and ventilation to this exit
✓ You must prevent any sources of heat or ignition that would ignite
✓ You should not use fuel in the storage place other than in the fuel tank of any combustible engine

If you wish to store over 3500 litres, you must follow regulations for businesses. You will also need to apply for planning permission to install an oil tank with this capacity at home.


If you have a storage container that can hold over 200 litres at your business, you must follow the Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001.

The legislation denotes to storing:

✓ White Diesel
✓ Biofuels
✓ Kerosene
✓ Vegetable oil and plant-based oils e.g. sunflower oil
✓ Lubricants or hydraulic oils
✓ Synthetic oils e.g. motor oil, waste oil
✓ Liquid bitumen-based products e.g. damp proofing or road surface products

Exemptions from the legislation:

✓ At a single private dwelling where less than 3500 litres are stored, however Building Regulations do apply for replacement and new tanks
✓ At premises used for onward distribution of oil to elsewhere
✓ Waste mineral oil storage
✓ Oil is stored underground
✓ Agricultural use of oil on farms for the production of heat and power. This is covered by the Control of Pollution (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) Regulations, 1991


Whoever installs your tank must ensure the work complies with building regulations and inform you if your tank requires a secondary containment (a bund) to protect from any spillages.

Remember, it’s your responsibility for any pollution caused by fuel storage problems, so be sure to choose a registered company or ‘Competent Person’ to do the works for you.

Containers include:

✓ Fixed tanks and oil drums
✓ Intermediate bulk containers (IBCs)
✓ Mobile bowsers
✓ Some generators and transformers

Fixed tanks meet British Standard 5410 and be bunded – a drip tray isn’t suitable to prevent any spillage on these tanks. Plastic containers need to comply to the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) standard OST T100 and metal containers must comply to OFTEC standard OFS T200 or British Standard 799-5 and ideally be used above the ground

Our  storage tanks are perfect for storing a wide range of fuels and can be tailored to suit your personal specifications. They vary in size, shape and capacity and can also come hand in hand with a selection of equipment to help get your fuel safely out your tank.

Give our friendly team a call today on 01531 632222 and we’ll be happy to help.

Ledbury Welding and Engineering tanks meet all regulations that are available for purchase and our team of experts are here to help you on your fuel storage journey.


You must store your fuel in a container:

✓ Where there’s minimal risk of damage by impact, weather or machinery
✓ In areas that are away from risk from flooding
✓ At least 10 metres clear of inland or coastal waters and also 50 meters of a spring
✓ Away from roof height and above
✓ On an impermeable surface if close to where deliveries are made and oil is dispensed

If you can’t avoid these areas, just give us a call today on 0330 158 8212 and one of our friendly team will happily discuss your options for safe storage.

You must also only fill the container up to 85% to allow room for expansion, to avoid any spillages.



Domestic oil supply pipes tend to be made of plastic-coated soft copper tubing so they can be easily manipulated. Commercial installations tend to be made of steel and can offer added protection from damage or vandalism. Steel pipes must not be galvanised and should be painted and maintained to reduce corrosion.

Underground pipework should be avoided where possible as it’s difficult to detect leakage or damage and there’s a larger risk of pollution

Above ground pipework must be positioned to avoid the risk of damage by impact and be protected against collision. It’s a legal requirement that the pipework is supported so it’s secure and cannot become loose.


If your fixed tank contains a flexible pipe to dispense oil, the pipe must be in a secure cabinet that’s locked shut when not in use with a drip tray attached.

On the other hand, the pipe must be kept inside the bund with a lockable valve where the pipe leaves the oil tank. This must remain locked shut when not in use, with a tap or valve at the input end that secures automatically when not in use. This must not be able to be fixed open except if it has an automatic cut off mechanism.


A pump is a potential source of ignition so must:

✓ Be located outside of the bund on an impervious base and in open air
✓ Be positioned to reduce the risk of damage by impact e.g. drivers, tanker turning circles and fork lift truck routes
✓ Have a valve in its feed line to stop the tank contents from emptying in the event of damage
✓ Remain locked shut and enclosed in a casing when not in use or the supply of electricity must be cut off to prevent unwanted usage


A valve is a vital safety feature of an oil tank installation, because it will prevent the supply of oil in the event of a fire. The valve must be:

✓ Outside the building
✓ Before the point of entry
✓ Activated by a remote sensor
✓ Seen from the filling point
✓ Locked when not in use

Pipes that are connected to tanks are a potential source of a leakage so must have suitable shut-off valves which are fire safe when tested to BS EN ISO 10497.

If your tank has any vent pipes, taps or valves that are permanently attached where oil can escape, they must be:

✓ Inside the bund
✓ Positioned so that oil goes directly into the bund


To avoid overfilling your tank, your tank must have an automatic overfill prevention device if the tank and vent pipe cannot be seen when filling up. This can include an apparatus to cut off the oil when it’s full or an alarm or fixed tank probe to signal an alert for when it’s full.


You must ensure that the screw fitting or fixed coupling does not become eroded and check that debris is not trapped within.


When using a remote fill pipe, you must use a drip tray to prevent damage to surrounding areas from an oil spill. A remote fill is required when your container is replenished at a fill point that’s outside of the bund or drip tray.


Secondary containment will prevent oil escaping in the event of leakage from the tank or ancillary equipment. All tanks and ancillary equipment must be situated within an oil tight secondary containment system, for example a bund or drip tray. An oil spillage can damage the environment as well as marine life.


Bunded fuel tanks or containers are the most reliable fuel facilities of storing fuel safely and securely and are perfect for plant equipment and machinery that regularly need replenishing.

A bund is essentially an outer case to encompass the container and is either made from masonry or concrete or is manufactured as part of a tank system. Tanks that have been pre-made in this way are called integrally bunded tanks.

A bund must meet ISO 9000 regulations:

✓ Non-corrosive and resistant to oil and water
✓ Able to hold 110% of the tank’s capacity*
✓ Have an expected lifespan of 20 years with maintenance
✓ Resistant to oil and water with no drain-down pipe
✓ Every part of the tank must be contained with taps and valves pointing down and locked when not in use
✓ Delivery pipes must be permanently attached to the tank with self-closing taps or valves inside that are locked when not in use

*A bund must be able to hold 110% of the capacity of the container. The additional 10% margin is needed for a number of factors:

✓ Loss of the total tank contents
✓ Overtopping
✓ Sudden tank failure
✓ Rainfall during spillage

If you have more than one oil storage tank in the system, the secondary containment must be able to store 110% of the largest tank’s capacity or 25% of the total capacity, whichever is the largest. Bulk tanks require a bund by environmental law and will also satisfy the requirements of DSEAR regulations.


A drip tray will ensure any spillages are contained within as it must be attached underneath the tank. If a drip tray can hold an equal amount to the container, it should also be able to hold one quarter of the drum it’s holding. This is applicable if you only use the tray to hold a single drum e.g. a drip tray that can hold 4 separate 205-litre drums must have a capacity of 205 litres, even if you’re only using it to hold a single 205 litre drum.



A sight gauge is a traditional method to measure the contents of a bottom outlet oil tank, we can also supply a wide range of electronic tank gauges. They must be:

  • Located in the secondary containment
  • Properly supported so it cannot become loose
  • Fitted with a valve that automatically closes when not in use
  • Fitted with a bracket along the length of the gauge to fix the tube to the tank to prevent it being knocked over
  • Fitted in the correct zone


Gauging can also be done using dip rods that are made of non-sparking alloys that are earthed. You must only use the rod in the specific tank that it was designed for to ensure accurate readings. This method can however cause a potential source of ignition that can produce frictional heating, sparking and static electricity.

For further information, read the relevant regulations:

✓ Control of pollution (oil storage) (England) regulations 2001
✓ The Water Environment (Oil Storage) (Scotland) Regulations 2006
✓ The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010

For any further advice on the safe storage of oil, give us a call today.

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