Petroleum licensing

Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.


The Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014

The Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 came into force on 1 October 2014. They combine, update and replace all previous legislation on petrol storage.  The existing health and safety responsibilities remain the same. Anything that is still relevant is included in the 2014 Regulations.

The Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 apply to:

  • Workplaces that store petrol where petrol is dispensed. For example, retail and non retail petrol filling stations
  • Non-workplace premises storing petrol. For example at private homes or at clubs/associations (or similar)

The following legislation has been withdrawn:

  • Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928
  • Petroleum Spirit (Motor Vehicles etc) Regs 1929
  • Petroleum (Mixtures) Order 1929
  • Petroleum (Transfer of Licences) Act 1936
  • Petroleum (Liquid Methane) Order 1957
  • The Petroleum (Regulation) Acts 1928 and 1936 (Repeals and Modifications) Regulations 1974
  • The Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928
  • The Petroleum (Enforcement) Regulations 1979
  • Petroleum Spirit (Plastic Containers) Regs 1982

The Petroleum Enforcement Authority (PEA) is Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. They are responsible for ensuring safety at sites where petrol is:

  • delivered
  • stored
  • dispensed

The keeping of petrol must be in accordance with conditions attached to a licence. The licence must be issued under the Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014. When an Inspector appointed by the PEA visits a petrol filling station, the aim is to ensure that safety standards are:

  • observed
  • maintained
  • improved where necessary 

Other safety-related legislation is enforced by:

  • local councils or
  • the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

This is dependent on the main activity at the premises concerned.

Storing a small amount of petrol

You can store up to 30 litres of petrol at home or at non-workplace premises without informing your local PEA.

You can store it in:

  • Suitable portable metal or plastic containers
  • One demountable fuel tank
  • A combination of the above as long as no more than 30 litres is kept

For these purposes 'premises' are as defined in the Health and Safety Work Act, etc. 1974. These include, for example:

  • motor vehicles
  • boats
  • aircraft

For further information go to www.hse.gov.uk

Storing petrol safely

Petrol is a highly flammable liquid. It gives off flammable vapour even at very low temperatures.  When this vapour is mixed with air in proportions between 1% and 8% a risk of fire or explosion exists.  Petrol vapour is heavier than air. It does not disperse easily in still conditions.  It tends to sink to the lowest possible level of its surroundings. As such, it may accumulate in:

  • tanks
  • cavities
  • drains
  • pits
  • other depressions

Flammable atmospheres may also exist where clothing or other absorbent material or substances are contaminated with petrol.  Petrol vapour can have acute or chronic effects if inhaled. It should therefore be considered in the assessment required under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH).

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) require employers to control the risks to safety from fire and explosions.

New guidance on portable petrol storage containers is available. This gives practical advice on the:

  • design
  • construction
  • materials
  • marking or labelling

of containers. This is as required by the regulations.


Quick guide to Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002

DSEAR stands for the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002.  Dangerous substances can put peoples' safety at risk from fire and explosion.  DSEAR puts duties on employers and the self-employed to protect people from risks to their safety from:

  • fires
  • explosions
  • similar events

in the workplace. This includes members of the public who may be put at risk by work activity.

Dangerous substances

Dangerous substances are any substances used or present at work that could, if not properly controlled, cause harm to people as a result of a fire or explosion.  They can be found in nearly all workplaces. They include such things as:

  • solvents
  • paints
  • varnishes
  • flammable gases, such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
  • dusts from machining and sanding operations
  • dusts from foodstuffs

DSEAR requirements

Employers must:

  • Find out what dangerous substances are in their workplace and what the fire and explosion risks are
  • Put control measures in place to either remove those risks or, where this is not possible, control them
  • Put controls in place to reduce the effects of any incidents involving dangerous substances
  • Prepare plans and procedures to deal with
    • accidents
    • incidents and
    • emergencies
    involving dangerous substances
  • Make sure employees are properly informed about and trained to control or deal with the risks from the dangerous substances
  • Identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources in those areas. (These may be from unprotected equipment, for example)

Applying for a licence (petrol stations)

The cost of a licence to Keep Petroleum Spirit of a quantity:

Not exceeding 2,500 litres

  • 1 year = £44
  • 2 years = £88
  • 3 years = £132

Exceeding 2,500 litres but not exceeding 50,000 litres 

  • 1 year = £60
  • 2 years = £120
  • 3 years = £180

Exceeding 50,000 litres

  • 1 year = £125
  • 2 years = £250
  • 3 years = £375

Transfer of petroleum spirit licence - £8.

Petroleum licence application form

You can apply online or download the Petroleum Licence Application here:

If you require a form to be sent to you, please email csadmin@fire.cornwall.gov.uk.

All forms and cheques for licence applications must be made payable to Cornwall Council and sent to:

St. Austell Community Fire Station
Carlyon Road
St. Austell
PL25 4LD


Other health and safety considerations

In addition to the general duties established under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (s.2, 3, 4, 7 and 8) the following legislation may also be of relevance in premises visited by local authority health and safety inspectors:

  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. (Risk assessment, appointment of competent persons, etc.)
  • COSHH 1999 (assessment and control of risks arising from substances hazardous to health)
  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)(iv) Electricity at Work Regulations 1989(v) Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

Petrol and COSHH 1999

Aspiration is the entry of liquid into the lungs following swallowing and subsequent vomiting.  Petrol is classified as 'Harmful by ingestion'. This is due to this aspiration hazard (i.e. the risk of chemical pneumonitis) and not because of its acute toxicity (i.e. poisoning) properties.  Petrol is also classified as a skin irritant. This is due to its potential to cause dermatitis.  The presence of up to 5% benzene means that petrol is classified as Carcinogenic, Category 2. (See element on 'Carcinogens' in this manual for further guidance).

Under COSHH 1999 a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is required for all jobs carried out involving petrol.  This may involve:

  • emergency procedures (spillages or accidental ingestion)
  • protective clothing to prevent skin contact
  • precautions to control exposure by inhalation

General safety

An assessment needs to be carried out on the risks involved, where

  • petrol might be used. (For example, mobile equipment, generators)
  • workers exposed to other petrol fire/explosion risks. (For example, garage workshops)

This is to ensure that adequate control measures are taken.  Leaflets giving advice on petrol safety are available. These cover safe storage, carriage and use.

When draining petrol tanks, appropriate advice includes:

  • Choose a level, well-ventilated area, preferably out of doors
  • Never drain petrol over a pit
  • Keep all sources of ignition well away
  • Use a proper fuel retriever or syphon
  • If draining into a container, use a funnel
  • Do not attempt hot work on petrol tanks

Safety aspects of petroleum delivery, storage and dispensing are the responsibility of the licensing authority. If you require any advice please do not hesitate to contact us at protection@fire.cornwall.gov.uk 

Further advice and guides are available online from the HSE website


Health and safety checklist

  • Have you carried out a COSHH assessment regarding exposure?
  • As a premises storing/dispensing petrol as a fuel do you comply with the licence issued by your Petroleum Licensing authority?
  • For other premises where petrol is used or handled, have you carried out a risk assessment for the activities concerned?
  • Have you implemented appropriate measures to control the fire/explosion risks identified in your risk assessment?
  • Have you informed or instructed employees of the health and safety risks associated with petrol and appropriate precautions that should be taken?

Unloading of petroleum spirit at licenced premises

Must conform to the Carriage of Dangerous goods by Road Regulations 1996 (Regulation 20) and current Approved Code of Practice.

You can view the code of practice for Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road from https://www.legislation.gov.uk.

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