Gas Networks Ireland (GNI), the successor of Gaslink, is to continue to review towns that did not qualify for connection to natural gas supply previously, including Cavan Town.
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White, has revealed that Gaslink completed three comprehensive studies to assess nearly 80 towns for connections to the gas network. The result was that more than 20 new towns were connected to the natural gas supply in recent years, including Cootehill in Co Cavan.
However, there was admitted disappointment at the time that the connection did not stretch further from Bailieborough through Cootehill and onto the county town. Last week, Fianna Fáil’s Brendan Smith asked what proposals were now in place to extend the supply to Cavan Town.
The Minister responded by saying the that the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) is statutorily responsible for all aspects of the assessment and licensing of prospective operators who wish to develop and/or operate a gas distribution system within the State.
In 2006, the CER approved a Gas Connections Policy, which enabled assessment of the feasibility of connecting new towns to the gas network. In order for any town to be connected to the gas network, certain economic criteria need to be satisfied.
“As the successor to Gaslink, GNI will continue to review the towns, which did not qualify for connection in 2010 as well as other towns. The key factor, which would qualify a town or group of towns in any future review, would be a significant increase in demand for natural gas, usually as a result of the addition of a new large industrial or commercial facility,” Minister White said.
He added that last year CER hosted a consultation on a submission received from GNI proposing a revision to existing gas connections policy, which included the appraisal of new connections to the network.
Late last year it was announced that 7,000 homes just north of the border would be connected to natural gas supply when the 'Gas to the West project’ is completed by 2018.
The large section of the route from Portadown will be a high-pressure pipeline, while the connections from Fermanagh’s main town to Derrylin would be intermediate pressure lines capable of providing further linkage to other local towns and villages.