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Petrol Vapour Recovery Stage I and Stage II Directives

The Petrol Vapour Recovery Stage I and Stage II Directives (94/63/EC + 2009/126/EC) regulate the storage of petrol and dispensing of petrol in order to reduce the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by recovering the vapour.

The Stage I (PVRI) Directive aims at minimising VOC emissions from the storage of petrol at terminals and petrol stations, from loading and unloading at terminals, and from unloading at petrol stations.  There are limited exclusions from the scope of the directive, mainly related to the size of the terminal or petrol station.

The Stage II (PVRII) Directive just deals with VOC emissions from refuelling – filling vehicles with petrol.  It has effect from 1 January 2012.  However, in England vapour recovery for refuelling operations at larger petrol stations with an annual petrol throughput of 3,500 cubic metres (m3)/3.5 million litres is already a requirement.

Key points in the PVRII Directive are:

  • by end-2018 all petrol stations with a petrol throughput of >3000m3 must have PVRII vapour recovery fitted
  • from January 2012, any new service station with an actual or intended annual throughput of >500m3 must be equipped with PVRII vapour recovery
  • from January 2012, any existing service station with an actual or intended annual throughput of >500m3 must be equipped with PVRII if they undergo “major refurbishment”
  • petrol vapour capture efficiency must be 85% or more
  • where the recovered petrol vapour is transferred to a storage tank at the service station, the vapour/petrol ratio must be equal to or greater than 0,95 but less than or equal to 1,05.

Regulations and guidance.  The Environmental Permitting Regulations were made on 9 December 2011 to transpose the PVRII Directive into law in England and Wales.  Defra has produced accompanying guidance which contains the main changes, practical implications, and the key definition of  “major refurbishment” which is one of the triggers for fitting PVRII equipment in existing petrol stations.  The guidance was drawn up in consultation with the UK Petroleum Industry Association, Retail Motor Industry Petrol Retailers Association, and the Downstream Fuel Associations, and with selected local authorities.

The PVRI Directive and PVRII controls in England are implemented through a requirement to hold a permit issued under the Environmental Permitting Regulations.  Most terminals must obtain a permit from the Environment Agency – see EA guidance.  Terminals not linked to refineries, and all relevant petrol stations, must obtain a permit from the relevant local authority.

Defra guidance:

An introduction to the two Directives can be found in Chapter 35 of the General Guidance Manual.

Page last modified: 20 April 2012