Storing Oil at Your Home or Business Premises

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.

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
Vegetable oil
Plant-based oil
Sunflower oil
Aromatherapy oil
Waste cooking oil
Synthetic oils

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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.