Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Storing and using oil for agriculture

Oil, fuel and agriculture

What you must do

In Northern Ireland

If you store oil that is not used for agricultural purposes, for example to supply fuel for a haulage business or for industrial or commercial businesses, then you will need to comply with the Oil Storage Regulations.
Oil storage

If you store oil for agricultural use on a farm your storage facilities must comply with certain regulations if you store more than 1,250 litres of fuel oil and the storage tank was constructed on or after 1 December 2003.

Older storage facilities are normally exempt from the regulations. However, you may have to carry out improvement work if your environmental regulator considers that your facilities could cause pollution.

You must notify the NIEA in writing at least 28 days before you use new or substantially reconstructed or enlarged fuel storage areas.
Contact NIEA

You must construct all storage installations to last for at least 20 years with proper maintenance.

The entire installation must be at least 10 metres from any waterway.

The fuel oil storage area must be surrounded by a bund. The bund and the base of the storage area must be impermeable.

If you have only one oil storage container in a bund, the bund must be able to hold 110% of its volume.

If you have more than one container in a bund, the bund must be able to hold whichever of the following is greater:

  • 25% of the total volume of the containers
  • 110% of the largest container's volume.

The bund walls must be so that they contain any fuel that may jet from the side of a tank.

Locate taps and valves within the bund and design them to discharge downwards to make sure any leaks do not jet over the side of the bund. When not in use, switch off and lock shut all taps and valves.

Fit a nozzle with an automatic shut-off device to any flexible discharge pipe that is permanently attached to a fuel tank. Lock the pipe within the bund when it is not in use.

In Scotland

You must comply with the Regulations for Oil Storage for any oil that you store, including agricultural fuel oil. The storage of less than 2,500 litres of oil intended for use exclusively as a fuel for heating a farmhouse or other residential premises on a farm is exempted from these regulations.

The main requirements for the storage of oil are:

  • The container must be strong enough to hold the oil without leaking or bursting.
  • The container must be positioned to avoid damage (for example, as the result of impact from any vehicle), as far as is reasonably practicable.
  • Where the container has a storage capacity of 200 litres or more, it must be within a secondary containment system (bund or drip tray) that will catch any oil leaking from the container or its ancillary pipe work and equipment.
  • If there is only one storage container the secondary containment system must be large enough to hold at least 110% of the maximum contents of the container. If there is more than one container in the secondary containment, the bund must be capable of storing at least 110% of the largest tank or 25% of the total storage capacity, whichever is the greater (in the case of drums the tray/bund size should be at least 25% of total storage capacity).
  • Oil stored in mobile bowsers must also be bunded.
  • The bund base and walls must be impermeable to water and oil and must be checked regularly for leaks.
  • With some exceptions, valves, filters, sight gauges, vent pipes and other ancillary equipment must be kept within the bund when not in use.
  • Above-ground pipe work must be properly supported.
  • Below-ground pipe work must be protected from physical damage (such as due to excessive surface loading, ground movement or disturbance) and have adequate leakage detection. If mechanical joints have to be used, they should be readily accessible for inspection.

Oil storage

If you carry out fuelling activities that could cause water pollution, for example if your activities are close to a watercourse, you must comply with certain General Binding Rules (GBR10 and GBR11). You can find more information about these in SEPA’s CAR Practical guide.
SEPA: The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (as amended) (CAR) - A Practical Guide (Adobe PDF - 540KB)

Good Practice

In Northern Ireland, see section 9 of the DARD code of good practice for water, air and soil.
DAERA: Code of good agricultural practice for the prevention of pollution of water, air and soil

Scotland and Northern Ireland

See good practice guidance on oil storage and use in the Guidance for Pollution Prevention GPP 2 (‘Above ground oil storage tanks’), and 7 (‘Refuelling facilities’)

Useful Links

GPP 2 Above ground oil storage tanks (Adobe PDF - 276KB)

Oil Care Campaign

DAERA: SSAFO Guidance leaflet

SEPA: Oil storage in Scotland

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