The regulations require all existing petrol stations with annual sales of more than 3,500m3 of petrol to fit ‘Stage II’ vapour recovery equipment before 2012. New petrol stations with a throughput of 500m3 per year are also required to fit the equipment. Stations selling less than this are exempt.
The Scottish Government estimates that about 160 petrol stations will be affected, of 800 thought to still be in operation in 2012. These are mostly in urban areas and account for 40% of sales. Many have already installed the equipment.
Petrol vapour is a health hazard and aids the formation of low-level ozone and smog. Although the UK is obliged to cut emissions under a 1991 UNECE protocol, a long dispute with the oil industry and government inaction delayed action to implement it (ENDS Report 370, p 43 ).
The European Commission issued a draft Directive on Stage II controls last month (ENDS Report 407, p 56 ). Its proposals are similar to the Scottish Regulations, although the deadline for compliance is set at 2020 and it would affect stations selling more than 3,000m3 of petrol annually.