19 April 2006
Council's praise for CER gas moves
The decision by the Commission for Energy Regulation to revise upwards to twenty-five years the appraisal period for investment returns to gas connections has been praised by the Council for the West as a firm step in
the right direction..
CER has also approved the bundling together of small towns as a single project for gas supplies, and the changes in policy should extend gas availability to towns throughout the West and North West, according to the Council for the West.
Board Gais had made proposals in relation to changing the goal posts for investment in towns, asking that the criterion for repaying investment would go from 7 to 25 years, and that groups of smaller towns could be
CER has now accepted the proposals, thus making it easier to provide gas to towns in the region, and especially those adjacent to the gas pipeline running from the Corrib field.
In January the Council for the West had called on Board Gais and the Government to go the extra mile by extending proposals to embrace a more comprehensive and fairer distribution of the gas.
It pointed to what it saw as crucial shortcomings in the proposals. It argued that the gas pipeline should be strategically brought to service Knock Airport Business Park, Ballaghaderreen, Carrick-on-Shannon, Boyle,
Sligo and onto Donegal.
Calling then for a more liberal approach, Council chairman Sean Hannick had said easing back on conditions would be the best way to get the gas to Sligo as well as the towns in Mayo and Galway mentioned in the revised Board Gais proposals, i.e. Crossmolina, Castlebar, Westport, Ballina, Claremorris, Tuam and Athenry.
The Council for the West has repeatedly called for a network of spurs throughout the West and North West to supply households and industry and help create greater opportunities in a region which had fallen way behind
promised job projections.
And it has pointed out that Erris and its major centres should be included in any new proposals. It should, for instance, not be too difficult or expensive to have Belmullet supplied direct from the gas terminal, the
Council has consistently argued.
"We welcome this significant decision to amend the viability investment period. It is a very positive move and we look forward to Board Gais coming up with definitive proposals and guidelines so that towns and communities and planners can move forward in a coherent fashion," said Mr Hannick.
"It is positive, it is a step in the right direction and the region needs this more practical approach if it is to benefit from the gas supply network, and particularly from the Corrib find," he said, adding that it
was to be fervently hoped that Erris would be included in any new supply network.