A reliable supply of fuel is crucial to keeping a busy farm moving, but with various legal and environmental considerations to take into account, knowing how to store your fuel correctly can be confusing.
It’s important to understand that there are separate requirements for storing large quantities of fuel oil on a farm for purposes such as fuelling a tractor or powering a grain dryer, versus non-agricultural, commercial usage.
If a farm’s fuel storage tanks are non-compliant with the government’s oil storage regulations or are not regularly maintained, your fuel supply can be at risk of costly spills and leaks, fines, or even theft. Most delivery drivers can also refuse to fill up a storage tank if it is deemed to be unsafe for refuelling, leading to longer wait times for fuel and reduced productivity.
Here, we outline the storage obligations required for farms that store over 1,500 litres of fuel oil on their land for agricultural purposes.
Bunded or bust
Whether you’re looking for a plastic, steel, circular or rectangular tank, it’s vital that your fuel storage solution meets ISO 9000 quality management standards. Most importantly, your chosen tank must be bunded - surrounded by a secondary containment structure - to comply with government regulations.
Bunded (double-walled) fuel storage tanks provide greater protection against onsite spills and contain any drops of fuel from equipment and ports, giving you piece of mind when refuelling machinery. Your bunded tank must have a life-expectancy of at least twenty years, and its base and walls must be impermeable to oil and water and contain no drain-down pipe.
There are also considerations for valves and dispensing attachments. Every part of your tank must be included in the bund, and when taps and valves are not in use, these must be directed down and locked shut. Any delivery pipes must be permanently attached to the primary tank and fitted with self-closing taps or valves. These must also be locked inside the bund when not in use.
You will also need to evaluate the minimum capacity of that tank’s bund. For a single tank, minimum capacity will need to be 110% of the main tank capacity, and for multiple tanks, the bund must have 110% of the capacity of the largest tank or 25% of the total storage volume of all tanks in the area - whichever is larger.
Government guidelines also state that any waste fuel oil or oil and water mix that collects in the bund must be disposed of responsibly without causing pollution.
Location, location, location
As long as all components of your tank installation are 10 metres away from inland or coastal waters - including yard drains, dry ditches and land drains - you can store fuel oil in a single or multiple locations across your farm.
If you plan to keep your fuel in an underground storage tank, it must follow DEFRA’s Groundwater Protection Code of Practice to prevent pollution from petrol, diesel or heating fuel. DEFRA has published guidelines on a number of steps you can take to ensure your underground tank is compliant with this regulation. This includes conducting a risk assessment and preparing for any potential outcomes identified; following prescribed installation and usage guidelines; and training staff on best practice procedure. For further information, consult the guidance from DEFRA here.
Wherever and however you choose to store your fuel, the responsibility lies with you to take precautions to prevent and contain spillages. This may mean installing an alarm to alert you to fuel overfill, or setting up a telemetry system to highlight any sudden drop in fuel levels that may indicate a spillage.
Ultimately - prevention is the best cure. That’s why Certas Energy offers OFTEC registered engineers to conduct on site surveys to support farm owners in assessing their fuel tank requirements needs for safer, smarter storage.
Through our Safety F1rst initiative, we provide training to customers and on-site staff on safe handling and storage of fuel, best practice in preventing spills and leaks, and what to do in the event of a spill, leak or theft.
Rather than solely acting as a fuel supplier, Certas Energy is committed to providing full fuel management solutions to support safer, smarter fuel handling and storage on farms across the UK. All tanks supplied by Certas Energy meet UK regulations, giving farmers full peace of mind that their fuel is stored safely, securely and in compliance with the latest guidelines. Whatever your requirements, our full range of tanks are bound to meet your storage and dispensing needs.
Click here to learn more about stress-free fuel storage and dispensing solutions for your farm.
For full government guidance on oil storage regulation, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/storing-oil-at-a-home-or-business