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Northern Powerhouse European Union

Small waste oil burners to be phased out

The Government has announced that small waste oil burners in England and Wales will fall under much stricter regulations from April 2016 to help reduce emissions of air pollutants.

The Government has announced that small waste oil burners in England and Wales will fall under much stricter regulations from April 2016 to help reduce emissions of air pollutants.

According to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), there are approximately 15,000 small waste oil burners in operation across England and Wales, each consuming around 5,000 litres of waste oil per year. 

The equipment is commonly used to burn excess oil from vehicle servicing and heavy plant equipment but results in higher emissions of air pollutants than other alternative fuels. The practice is already banned in Scotland, Northern Ireland and some other EU countries. 

New restrictions

Small oil waste burners have historically fallen under the remit of local authorities but the Government is now planning to bring them under the scope of the Industrial Emission Directive (IED), meaning that businesses will have to meet much stricter environmental requirements as well as obtain the necessary Environmental Permit if they want to continue to operate a burner using waste oil.

As the requirements of the IED will be difficult to meet for simple equipment such as small oil burners, the Government expects that operators will have to change from using waste oil to purchasing alternative non-waste fuel oils or investing in a more efficient space-heating solution such as a gas boiler, which would not require an Environmental Permit.

Expected impact

The average cost per business for implementing these changes is likely to be around £1,800 - £2,300 over the next ten years, but Defra points out that alternative heating systems could qualify for Government support under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) or Feed-in Tariff (FiT) schemes and that SMEs can take various other measures to increase energy efficiency to offset the extra costs. 

Meanwhile, the resulting reduction in air pollution is estimated to provide health benefits of at least £84 million over the next ten years. Operators could also gain £23-35 million in revenue by selling their waste oil to oil recycling companies instead of burning it, according to Defra’s calculations.

The move comes as the UK is put under increasing scrutiny by the European Commission as it attempts to draw up plans to become compliant with EU air pollution limits.

A consultation on the Government’s plans closes on 26 October 2015. For more information, click here