Storing Oil at Your Home or Business Premises

Dec 14


Andy Howell

Andy Howell

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Many businesses and commercial enterprises use and store oils as part of their everyday operations. For example, businesses that store large quantities of fuel, or food production facilities that may store large quantities of cooking oils.


Many businesses and commercial enterprises use and store oils as part of their everyday operations. For example,Storing Oil at Your Home or Business Premises  Articles businesses that store large quantities of fuel, or food production facilities that may store large quantities of cooking oils.  

The Oil Storage Regulations govern the storage of these oils to stop sub-standard oil storage practices that could result in pollution. Oil is one of the most prolific pollutants in the UK, causing between 15% and 25% of all polluting incidents. Just a small amount of oil could seriously pollute a water source, making it poisonous to wildlife and unsuitable for human consumption. Whilst the vast majority of these incidents are accidental, caused by poor storage, some are intentional, such as pouring waste oils into drains or dumping it. 

If you own any business in England that produces or uses oils, of any kind, then you must familiarise yourself with the regulations that apply to oil storage and your responsibilities, to ensure you are operating with the law. 

The Oil Storage Regulations that apply to most locations within the UK are:

  • Control of Pollution (Oil Storage)(England) Regulations 2001
  • Water Environment (Oil Storage)(Scotland) Regulations 2006
  • The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010

Do the Regulations Apply to my Business?

If you store oil in a container that can hold 200 litres, or more, then the regulations apply to you and your business.


What types of oil do the regulations apply to? 

A huge range of oils are covered by the legislation, including: 

  • Petrol & Diesel
  • Biofuels
  • Kerosene
  • Vegetable oil
  • Plant-based oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Aromatherapy oil
  • Waste cooking oil
  • Synthetic oils
  • Motor oil
  • Oils used as solvents
  • Biodegradable oil
  • Hydraulic oils
  • Waterproofing oils
  • Damp proofing oils
  • Road surface coatings

When do the Oil Storage Regulations NOT apply? 

Some oil-based products are not covered by the regulations, such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), bitumen and waste mineral oils from vehicles. 

You will also be exempt from following the oil storage regulations if your oil is being used on a farm and used to heat or provide power; if it is contained with a hydraulic system for use as a lubricant, or if you are storing oil at an oil refinery or ready for distribution. 

If you are exempt, you may still need to obtain a permit to, so be sure to check the requirements with the Environment Agency.

Oil storage tanks 

If you need to install an oil tank, to store the oil that you use or produce as part of your business operations, whether it’s waste oil or oil to be used, you need to ensure it is installed professionally to meet safety, environmental and legal requirements. 

If your tank is installed incorrectly, and it causes any leaks or pollutes the surrounding land or water systems, you will be held liable. If the leaks or pollution are found to be a result of a poorly managed or installed oil storage tank, you could face large, uncapped fines. You may also have to pay clean-up costs, and be served with an anti-pollution notice from the Environment Agency that will force you take the necessary steps to rectify the issues.  

Choosing a company that is registered as part of the government’s ‘Competent Person’ scheme will ensure you are dealing with a reputable and professionally approved company. If you chose a company to install your tank, and they are not properly qualified, you will be solely  responsible for any spills, leaks or pollution that results from an inadequate tank.

Bunded Oil Storage Tanks

The oil storage regulations refer to secondary containment systems, more commonly known as bunded tanks. If you operate a commercial or industrial site, such a food processing facility that stores large quantities of cooking oil, and your tank has a capacity of 200 litres or more, it should be bunded. 

A bund is an additional layer around the tank, often made from concrete or constructed in brick. The bunding must be constructed in line with ISO 9000 and be able to contain 110% of the tank’s full capacity. 

Other requirements include:

  • The tank should be installed at ground level or below ground. Never at height. 
  • The tank should be easy to access for deliveries and maintenance, and protected from nearby machinery, equipment, flooding and the weather. 
  • You may need planning permission to install an underground tank, or any tank in a domestic property. 
  • You will need to ensure it is fitted with an efficient overfill prevention valve. 
  • The tank should be labelled to indicate the procedure to follow in case of a spill or leak. 
  • The tank should have adequate protection from fire and excessive heat sources. 
  • Annual inspections should be carried out by a professional company to ensure no damage or degradation to the tank, pipes or bunding materials.

If you’re unsure about what regulations apply to you, and what you need to do to comply, the best action to take is contacting the Environment Agency for advice. They will be able to answer you questions about all oil storage regulations in England. This is particularly important if your tank is within 10 metres of inland coastal waters, or 50 meters of a well or borehole.

Storing Smaller Quantities of Oil 

As a small business, who stores less than 200 litres of fresh or used cooking oils, the above oil storage regulations will not apply to you. 

However, you must still ensure that any cooking oil stored on your premises is kept responsibly and safely. You will be subject to local authority rules, so contact them for advice. 

Responsible cooking oil storage means:

  • Your oil should be stored in specialised containers that prevent leaks 
  • Your oil storage facility should be hygienic and easy to clean 
  • Cooking oil should never be allowed to leak or spill, especially into drains 
  • Used cooking oil should be disposed of correctly, using a certified waste transfer company 
  • Used cooking oil should be processed and recycled in an environmentally friendly way