Petrol stations

Service stations are commonly thought of as petrol or filling stations. But in this instance, service stations also include commercial refuelling sites such as those found on Post Office or Ministry of Defence premises. All such activities will need some form of petrol vapour recovery.

A summary guidance note for Service Station Operators on Petrol Vapour Recovery Requirements under PPC has been produced by SEPA and your trade association body the Petrol Retailers Associationto help you understand the requirements of the Regulations and to list the actions you should take to ensure your petrol station is compliant.

Regulation of petrol stations

The following petrol activities are listed under the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2012, which means if you operate any of the activities listed, you must hold a SEPA-issued permit to legally operate.

a) If your service station was opened before 1 January 2012 (otherwise known as an existing service station) Petrol Vapour Recovery Stage I applies if:

  • you are receiving petrol deliveries to your service station and your annual delivery throughput of petrol is likely to exceed 500m3 or 500,000 litres in a year.

In addition, Petrol Vapour Recovery Stage II applies if:

  • you are refuelling motor vehicles and the petrol refuelling throughput is likely to exceed 3500m3 or 3500,000 litres in a year.

NOTE – If your service station was opened before 1 January 2012 and undergoes a major refurbishment (significant alteration or renewal of the station infrastructure, in particular the tanks and pipes), this is then known as a new service station and paragraph b) below applies

b) If your service station was opened on or after 1 January 2012 (otherwise known as a new service station) Petrol Vapour Recovery Stage I applies if:

  • you are receiving petrol deliveries to your service station and your annual delivery throughput of petrol is likely to exceed 500m3 or 500,000 litres in a year.

In addition, Petrol Vapour Recovery Stage II applies if:

  • you are refuelling motor vehicles and the petrol refuelling throughput is likely to exceed 500m3or 500,000 litres in a year;

OR

  • you are refuelling motor vehicles and the petrol refuelling throughput is likely to exceed 100m3or 100,000 litres in a year and your service station is located below permanent living quarters or working areas.

Stages I and Stage II explained

PVR Stages I and II are explained in the following diagram. Click on diagram to see the image in full.

PVR stages explained

 

PVR Stage I collects displaced vapour from underground storage tank as it is filled with petrol, and removes it to the tanker. Vapours displaced by the delivery of petrol from road tankers into storage at service stations must be returned through a vapour-tight connection line to the road tanker delivering the petrol.

PVR Stage II collects displaced vapour from customer vehicle tanks as they are filled with petrol and removes it to the underground storage tank, using a system on the petrol dispensing pump nozzle. This vapour recovery system should be designed to recover at least 85% of the displaced petrol vapours.

Further guidance

PG Note 1/14 (13) - Unloading of Petrol into Storage at Petrol Stations must be read by all petrol station operators. It provides the control techniques that should be used to legally operate your activity and that will allow you to hold a permit. These techniques are considered by SEPA to be the best way to prevent and/or reduce emissions from petrol service stations.

Supplementary guidance

Questions and answers

Q. I’m going to operate a new petrol station what do I need from SEPA?
A. If you will be selling less than 500 m3 / 500,000 litres of petrol per annum, you do not need a PPC permit from SEPA. But if you sell 500 m3 / 500,000 litres or more per annum then the PPC Regulations (Scotland) 2012 require that you fit equipment to recover petrol vapour arising from both the delivery of petrol into storage tanks and the refuelling of customer vehicle tanks. These regulations also require you to apply for a new permit to operate these activities, known as Stage I and II respectively.  You have to pay for the application and thereafter an annual subsistence fee. You will also have to pay if you make any substantial variations to your site.

Q. I’m an existing site what equipment/permit should I have?
A. This depends on your annual throughput of petrol. If you sell less than 500 m3 / 500,000 litres per annum, you do not need a PPC permit from SEPA. If your annual throughput is less than 3500m3 / 3500 000 litres and greater than 500m3 / 500 000 litres then you need to have equipment in place to recover petrol vapour arising from the delivery of petrol into storage tanks, and a permit for this Stage I activity. However, if your annual throughput is 3500m3 / 3500 000 litres or more, then you need equipment to recover petrol vapour arising from both the delivery of petrol into storage tanks and the refuelling of customer vehicle tanks, and a permit covering both Stage I and Stage II activities. 

Q. I’m taking over an operational petrol station what do I need to do?
A. You will need to transfer the permit. Ideally this will be a joint application by yourself and the current operator; however, we can transfer the permit, with your agreement, should it consider this appropriate. If it is not transferred, and the seller surrenders the permit, you will have to apply for a new one, should your annual petrol throughput be 500m³/500,000litres or above. In addition to the equipment which should already be in place to recover petrol vapour arising from the delivery of petrol into storage tanks  you will have to fit equipment, if not already installed, to recover petrol vapour arising from the refuelling of customer vehicle tanks, Please contact Peter Semple on 01738 627989 or by email to discuss this.

Q. I’m refurbishing or significantly altering my petrol station, what do I need to do?
A. A petrol station with annual throughput of 500m³/500,000 litres or above which undergoes major refurbishment or significant alteration must have equipment fitted to recover petrol vapour arising from both the delivery of petrol into storage tanks and the refuelling of customer vehicle tanks. You must also have a permit to operate both these activities, known as Stage I and Stage II respectively. If the permit that you have is for Stage I activities only, you will need to apply for a substantial variation to the permit, to include Stage II activities. There is a fee for such applications.

Q. How do I apply?
A. You can find all the relevant forms on the SEPA website application forms page. If you wish to discuss your application please contact Peter Semple on 01738 627989 or by email.

Q. What is a standard rule and is it a legislative requirement?
A. SEPA is now allowed to use standard rules to regulate certain activities instead of issuing site specific permits. They are being progressively introduced for those activities where the process is fairly consistent from site to site and the risk to the environment is relatively low.    

The standard rules are a list of requirements specific to an activity and SEPA produces them in conjunction with the relevant industry. There is no right of appeal against the standard rules which is why SEPA is required to consult when developing or changing them. 

In addition, the standard rules are updated from time to time through consultation with the trade body and the updated standard rules are published on the website. A standard rules permit will contain one condition requiring you to comply with the standard rules instead of a number of conditions which may vary from site to site. 

Q. What are the penalties for not meeting standard rules?
A. Failure to comply with your permit is a criminal offence and carries a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment and a £40000 fine on summary conviction, and a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment.

Q. How do I comply?
A. You must read the standard rules that apply to your activity and ensure you implement the requirements. You should also read your permit and understand any other condition. Further detail about compliance is available from the Summary Guidance Note (on SEPA’s website). For fuller detail you should refer to the appropriate Process Guidance Note and thereafter the BREF guidance. 

Contact us

If you have any questions or require any further information or advice on any aspect of petrol station regulation, please contact us.