In addition to requirements made by the Authority under the Petroleum (Regulation) Acts 1928 and 1936 and the Dangerous Substances Explosives Atmosphere Regulations 2002, there are other interested parties who have legislative control over particular premises and therefore may need to be consulted depending on the use of the premises, and the amount of flammables stored.

They may include:

  1. Health and Safety Executive
  2. Environmental Health Office (local authority)
  3. Building Control Office (local authority)
  4. Insurers of the property
  5. Planning Officer (local authority)

Petroleum" as defined in the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928 and Petroleum (Transfer of Licences) Act 1936 includes crude petroleum, oil made from petroleum or coal, shale, peat or other bituminous substances and other petroleum products.

"Petroleum Spirit" is any "petroleum" which has a flash point of less than 21°C.

The term "petroleum spirit" as defined includes motor spirit, benzene, naphtha, pentane and other similar substances but does NOT include white spirit, paraffin, diesel oil or fuel oils. The term "petroleum mixture" includes some rubber solutions, varnishes and quick-drying paints, most cellulose solutions and thinners used with spraying media.

Vessels containing petroleum spirit are required to be conspicuously labelled "PETROLEUM SPIRIT HIGHLY FLAMMABLE".

It is an offence to keep petroleum spirit or petroleum mixture without a licence except that :-

Not exceeding 15 litres of petroleum spirit may be kept for sale or for private use in metal vessels or suitably designed plastic petrol containers, each securely stopped and each containing not more than 5 litres.

Petroleum spirit may be kept for use in motor vehicles, motor boats, aircraft and any other internal combustion engines in accordance with the Petroleum Spirit (Motor Vehicles etc.) Regulations 1929 and the Petroleum

Spirit (Plastic Containers) Regulations 1982. In no case may more than 275 litres be so kept in any one storage place. The Regulations do not authorise the keeping of petroleum spirit for sale.

Licences are granted for a period of one year at a time. Application for renewal should be made before the licence expires. The fees for licences are assessed according to the quantity kept as follows :-


Not exceeding 2,500 litres - £41
Exceeding 2,500 litres not exceeding 50,000 litres - £57
Exceeding 50,000 litres - £118
Transfer - £8

Applications for licences and written enquiries should be addressed to Safety and Licensing Team.

The Authority may attach conditions to a petroleum licence and each application for a licence is considered on its merits, although carrying out a suitable risk assessment under DSEAR 2002 may mitigate this requirement. The Authority's officers should be consulted and written approval of the proposed arrangements obtained before premises are acquired or any works are carried out.

The Authority may also transfer a petroleum licence during its currency from one person to another upon payment of a statutory fee.

It is in the public interest that Torbay Licensing Authority must process your application before it can be granted. You cannot provide, operate, authorise or undertake the licensable activity without a Licence and submitting an application form does not guarantee that a Licence will be granted.

If you have not had a response to your application within 28 days, please contact Torbay Licensing Authority by using any of the contact options listed below. You can also make contact with the Licensing Authority here if you applied through the UK Welcomes service.

If an application for a Petroleum licence is refused the fee paid to Torbay Council can not be refunded. Please ensure you can meet all the eligibility criteria before applying.

Please contact Torbay Council in the first instance.
If an application is refused the applicant may appeal to the Secretary of State.

Acceptable methods of storage are referred to below. Other methods of storage may be accepted if the Authority considers the arrangements satisfactory. It does not necessarily follow that if the general requirements can be complied with a licence will be granted.

  • Storage in underground tanks
  • Guidance for the design, construction, modification and maintenance of petrol filling stations 2nd Edition, published by the APEA.
  • See Guidance Note No.15 "Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928 - General Requirements for the Keeping of Petroleum Spirit in Underground Installations at Private and Public Filling Stations".
  • Keeping under the Petroleum Spirit (Motor Vehicles etc) Regulations 1929
  • See Guidance Note 36 "Petroleum (Motor Vehicle etc) Regulations 1929

Occupiers of licensed premises are required to notify the appropriate body of any accident by fire or explosion occurring on the premises which involves petroleum spirit or petroleum mixture and occasions loss of life or personal injury. Notification should be made to HSE and then to Torbay Council Safety and Licensing Team.

In any event the Authority should be notified of ANY accident, fire or leakage involving petroleum spirit or mixture (in accordance with a condition attached to licences issued by the Authority).

If any person to whom a licence is granted contravenes any condition of the licence or any employee fails to observe any condition of the licence set out in the notice mentioned in 8, they are liable on conviction to a heavy penalty. A heavy penalty may also be imposed in respect of the illegal keeping of petroleum spirit.

Any person who in contravention of the relevant provisions of the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928 refuses to show any officer authorised by the Authority any place or vessel in which petroleum in their possession is kept, or to give to such officers such assistance as they may require for examining any such place or vessel, or to give them samples of such petroleum on payment of the value thereof, or who wilfully obstructs the Authority, or any officer of the Authority acting in the execution of the Act, is liable on conviction to a penalty.

Below is detailed guidance from HMSO on the keeping of petroleum spirit and petroleum mixture may be obtained from the following bibliography.

  • Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928
  • Petroleum (Transfer of Licences) Act 1936
  • Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres
  • Petroleum Spirit (Motor Vehicles etc) Regulations 1929
  • Petroleum Spirit (Plastic Containers) Regulations 1982
  • Highly Flammable Liquids and Liquefied

HSE Books

  • Regulations 2002 

If any further clarification on the general principles regarding the keeping of petroleum spirit and petroleum mixture is required, or guidance on the department's interpretation of any of the above documents is needed, do not hesitate to contact Torbay Council Petroleum Officer dealing with your premises.

This webpage is designed to give you general advice. It is not a statement of law and should not be interpreted as such.