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Ballina gas will be delivered

Ballina gas will be delivered

Áine Ryan

BORD GÁIS and Ballina Town Council officials are scheduled to meet today (Wednesday) to discuss the initial installation of gas mains in the town, while last week representatives of the board met members of the Chamber of Commerce to discuss and promote the commercial benefits of natural gas. In 2005, the Chamber had carried out a feasibility study, determining the potential demand for gas in the north Mayo capital.
Director of Services, Mr Seamus Granahan told The Mayo News that the Council wants to identify where precisely in the town the gas mains will be situated, in order to co-ordinate the installation with the permanent resurfacing of the roads, after the completion of the main sewerage scheme.
“Bord Gáis has already given us a commitment that they will do their best to cooperate with our schedule of works. We hope Wednesday’s meeting will further this process,” said Mr Granahan.
Bord Gáis has also confirmed its commitment to working with both Mayo County Council and Ballina Town Council. “Bord Gáis is liaising with Mayo County Council on the gas construction programme and, in particular, on laying part of the new gas network in Ballina over the next 12 months to co-ordinate with planned re-surfacing works being carried out by the Council. We are also liaising with them on bringing our network across the River Moy during the construction of the proposed new footbridge,” stated a spokesman.
Welcoming the confirmation, General Election candidate Mr Dara Calleary strongly criticised misinformation in the public domain regarding the time-frame of the project.
“Recent press statements suggesting a significant delay in gas roll-out have been very damaging to the economic profile of both Ballina and Crossmolina. These statements have been shown to be untrue by the confirmations issued today. I welcome the Bord Gáis confirmation and the fact that they plan to spend €40 million on the Mayo and Galway gas connection project over the next year, ” said Mr Calleary.
Meanwhile, Ballina Chamber of Commerce has observed that the installation of the gas network ‘brings closure to a 21-month campaign by the Chamber Infrastructure [Committee]’, the cornerstone of which was the independent report detailing the ‘economic argument for acquiring a gas spur for Ballina’.
Entitled ‘Feasibility Report On Natural Gas Distribution Pipeline To Ballina’, the report was part-funded by Leader, and undertaken in association with the Western Development Commission (WDC).
It concluded that the connection policy guidelines employed by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) were too strict and should be brought in line with other European countries. Consequently, the Chamber made several representations to the CER, the Oireachtas sub-committee on Energy and to Ministers Eamon Ó Cuív and Noel Dempsey.
After the CER announced in May 2006 a change in policy for new towns, the Chamber met with a high-ranking delegation from Bord Gáis to lobby for Ballina being in the first tranche of towns to be connected. Six months later, in November, Bord Gáis announced the extension of the natural gas network to eleven towns, including Ballina, along the route of the new Mayo-Galway pipeline.
Meanwhile, Ballinrobe councillor, Patsy O’Brien is seeking clarification on why Ballinrobe has been excluded from the proposed list of Mayo towns to be connected. While the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) said Ballinrobe was excluded as it would not be viable due to a lack of commercial customers, Cllr O’Brien is asking why Ballinrobe could not have been twinned with another town or village in the surrounding area in order to make it workable.
“The allowing of towns in the east Mayo area to be twinned for the natural gas supply makes it more accessible for those towns to receive gas from the new network. The CER could have twinned Ballinrobe with Headford for the supply of gas or even with another town or village.
“The town of Ballinrobe is continuing to grow and it is a shame that the bustling south Mayo town is being left out of the equation when it comes to the supply of gas,” said Cllr O’Brien.