Does Every British Forecourt Need Oil Interceptor Installation?

Oil interceptor installation (or oil separator installation) can make forecourts safer. However, the law surrounding their installation is sometimes misunderstood.

The issue with regulations surrounding oil interceptor installation is that online legislation and best practice advice from SEPA, NetRegs, and other British government bodies appear contradictory. While the law surrounding oil interceptor installation is quite simple, changes from the UK government as well as the Scottish, Northern Irish, and Welsh governments have led to some confusion. So, here’s our quick guide to understanding it all.

Full Retention Oil Interceptor Installation for all British Forecourts Was the Law

In 2006, SEPA (the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) released the Pollution Prevention Guidelines (PPGs). This “best practice” guide from SEPA was intended to help people understand and interpret the Water Environment (Oil Storage) (Scotland) Regulations 2006. The PPGs also helped to clarify certain laws which applied to the whole of the UK.

PPG 3 was intended to give guidance on the law surrounding oil interceptor installation in Scotland and the rest of the UK. In PPG 3, SEPA said that full retention oil interceptor installation was a legal requirement in all British forecourts.

UK Government Withdraws PPGs and Devolves the Law

In 2015, the Environmental Agency withdrew all PPGs, including PPG 3, and said that the “Environment Agency does not provide ‘good practice’ guidance”. This change in direction has meant that some online documents contradict others because they are now out of date.

As of 2015, full retention oil interceptor installation is not a legal requirement in all British forecourts. So what does the new law say?

In England, Oil Separator Installation is Recommended

In Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, PPGs are now considered “a source of information on good practice only”. In England, as previously stated, the Environmental Agency does not provide good practice guidance at all. Instead, new legal guidance (which applies to England only) was published on 12th July 2016.

This legal guidance states that “you may need to install an oil separator (interceptor) or other device to remove oil from water draining off hard surfaces” and that “typically” a separator is needed for a “refueling facility”.

In summary, where full retention oil interceptor installation was once a legal requirement for all forecourts in England, it is now a case-by-case matter. However, as you “may need one”, Biocell Water would continue to recommend oil interceptor installation for your forecourt. What is more, we can also offer a range of full retention oil interceptors — in accordance with the now withdrawn PPG 3.

In Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, PPGs are Currently Being Updated

As of 2017, the PPGs are still being updated and changed. They are no longer legally binding but — unlike England — Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland still see the PPGs as a source of good practice.

At the time of writing, PPG 3 has yet to have been updated. So, while oil interceptor regulation is no longer a legal requirement, Biocell Water would still recommend it in lieu of other advice and in the name of following “good practice” advice. We are willing to deliver and install full retention oil interceptors to anywhere in the UK or Ireland.

Change is Complicated, But Our Advice is Simple…

We recommend oil interceptor installation for all forecourts and are willing to deliver our oil interceptors to any location in the UK or Ireland. Our oil interceptors are built in accordance with EN 858. We always follow UK, Irish, and EU law when it comes to oil storage and the environment. We also believe strongly in a quality product and quality service to help keep forecourts and our environment safe.

For oil interceptor installation and delivery anywhere in the UK or Ireland, contact Biocell Water today. As the industry leaders in wastewater management, our products are sold all over the world.

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