The regulations apply to anyone who stores more than 200 litres of oil in England.
If you do, you must provide secure containment facilities for tanks, drums, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) and mobile bowsers.
The oil storage regulations (OSR) only apply in England.
The water environment (oil storage) (Scotland) regulations 2006 apply in Scotland. These regulations are different to the oil storage regulations in England. If you store oil in Scotland you should check the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) website for details:
The control of pollution (oil storage) regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 apply in Northern Ireland. They have a phased implementation and have different requirements to OSR in England. If you store oil in Northern Ireland you should check the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) for details:
There are no equivalent regulations for Wales.
Definitions of in-use, storage and oil
There is no legal definition of 'in-use' or 'storage' in OSR in England.
There is no specific definition of ‘oil’ in OSR in England. This is because the regulations cover a wide variety of oils.
For the purposes of the regulations we would:
- look at site specific details
- consider the risk on site
- check what measures are being taken to help reduce potential incidents
Generally, if oil is being used but not stored, it’s likely to be exempt from OSR in England.
Types of oil covered
The regulations cover all types of oil except waste mineral oil. This includes petrol, diesel, bio-fuels, vegetable oils, synthetic, mineral oils and oils used as solvents. Biodegradable oils are also covered.
Waste mineral oil is covered by exemption S1 in Section 2 of Chapter 5 of Schedule 3 to the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 (EPR). Waste mineral oil storage is limited to 3 cubic metres, it must be in a secure container and you must provide secondary containment. Waste oil storage above 3 cubic metres must have an Environmental Permit from us.
Previously used oil, for example oil that has been drained from vehicle engines, is waste oil. If you are storing waste oil where it is produced (emptied from the vehicles) it is covered by a non registerable exemption under Paragraph 2 of Part 3 of Schedule 25 to the EPR 2010. You must store this in a secure place so that it can’t escape. We recommend you store the waste oil container on or in secondary containment.
Products that aren't covered by the regulations
The regulations, and their Defra guidance, don't specifically exclude any products from inclusion in the regulations. There are some hydrocarbon-based products we consider not to be included, for example:
- liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
- solid hydrocarbon products, for example bitumen
- non oil-based solvents, for example trichloroethylene
- aromatic hydrocarbons, for example benzene and toluene
We may use other regulatory powers to control the pollution risk from the storage of these products, for example anti-pollution works regulations, groundwater regulations or civil sanctions.
Oil stored at marinas (on the bank or pontoons)
Oil storage at marinas must comply with the OSR England. We recommend that tanks in areas that are prone to high tides or floods are secured to prevent them lifting or floating away.
Oil storage on barges at coastal marinas comes under the jurisdiction of the harbour master and is not covered by these regulations.
The storage of petroleum is controlled by the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act and the Dangerous Substance and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations. You need a license from the petroleum licensing authority, usually the Fire Service or County Council trading standards department to store it.
‘Service boats’ whose use includes dispensing oil to refuel customers’ boats, are covered by the requirements of the regulations. They aren’t premises for the sole purpose of ‘onwards distribution’ because they provide oil to customers who will use it.
Houseboats and barges used as domestic premises
For the purposes of the OSR England we regard a houseboat or barge where someone lives as a private dwelling, and can constitute 'premises'. The term 'premises' is defined by Environment Act 1995 and includes vessels.
Oil storage tanks on houseboats that are less than 3,500 litres are excluded from the regulations.
Sites regulated under the Environmental Permitting Regulations
There is no exemption for sites in England regulated under the EPR.
It is our policy to regulate only once. A standard condition will be included in permits stating that oil stores should comply with OSR England.
Where the OSR England standards are not stringent enough to reduce the risk of environmental damage from a site, the permit will specify the measures over and above OSR England standards.
Where the standards of the regulations are not appropriate, we will agree site-specific measures to achieve the aims of OSR England using different means.
Crown sites must comply with OSR England. Although we can't prosecute for non-compliance, we can ask the High Court for a declaration that the Crown has acted unlawfully.
Oil storage at airports
Oil stored above ground at airports may have to comply with the OSR England, depending on who owns the store.
Oil owned by an oil company (at its own depot on or near the airport) and sold to airline companies for use in their aircraft is oil storage for onward distribution. It is exempt from the regulations.
Oil owned by an airport, commercial airline or private owner which is used to fill their own planes, is oil storage for end use – not onward distribution. It is covered by the regulations and must be provided with secondary containment.