Keep fuel secure

With energy costs rising there’s never been more emphasis on making sure stocks of liquid fuel such as diesel are used efficiently and stored securely.

And it is the latter that’s likely to cause most producers a headache.

Farm diesel and heating oil tanks are prime targets for petty theft and these have also become the subject of tighter pollution controls.

Suppliers suggest these new controls – included as part of a risk assessment for IPPC on some holdings – mean like-for-like replacements of traditional steel tanks are becoming uncommon.

This is essentially to avoid the risk of spillages from un-bunded tanks causing damage to the environment – a factor that carries fines well above £1000 – and has resulted in the move towards plastic double-skinned fuel stores.

Suppliers admit new plastic bunded stores will cost more than traditional steel tanks, but durability – and hence lifespan – should outweigh investment required (like many raw product costs, plastics are derived from oil-based products and the world market has seen sizeable increases in prices).

There is more flexibility in tank size and design today, with models ranging from 1100 litres to 10,000 litres, according to use.

Other developments see smaller models having the capability to be moved on pallet tines for ease of handling.

Recent legislation has seen the removal of external sight glasses allowing producers to see what fuel is left in-store on the grounds of potential for leakage.

These have been replaced with remote sensors transmitting volume data to receivers plugged in to an electrical wall socket in the farm office or workshop.

More tanks are now being supplied with petrol-station-style filling equipment to meet current British and EU specification.

Ground level tanks can be used with 12V pumps delivering 20+ litres/minute where height restrictions prevent gravity-based flow being used.

Security should also be a key issue, say suppliers.

A single padlock of the tap of a traditional tank is no longer enough.

Secure doors closing off filling equipment is recommended to deter thieves.

Better still, keep tanks out of sight.

Installation within buildings is governed by strict safety controls.

Consult suppliers to ensure new or replacement tank’s siting meets current safety guidelines.

Remember fuel is a valuable commodity; use it and store it wisely.