'Go extra mile on gas spurs' says Council for West
While fully supporting the Bord Gais proposed enhanced changes in the policy for gas connections to the Corrib pipeline through Mayo and Galway, the Council for the West has called on Bord Gais and the Government to go the extra mile by extending the latest proposals to embrace a more comprehensive and fairer distribution of the gas.
"We believe the proposed extension of the viability period and the group of smaller towns is excellent and will assist in achieving the objectives of the National Spatial Strategy," said Chairman Sean Hannick.
However, the Council for the West points to what it sees as crucial shortcomings in the proposals. "Now that the debate has been opened up, we firmly believe that the gas pipeline should be strategically brought to service Knock Airport Business Park, Ballaghaderreen, Carrick-on-Shannon, Boyle, Sligo and onto Donegal. This would be the best way to get the gas to Sligo as well as the towns in Mayo and Galway mentioned in the new proposals, i.e., Crossmolina, Castlebar, Westport, Ballina, Claremorris, Tuam and Athenry," said Mr. Hannick.
He said the Council for the West had 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.
Mr. Hannick instanced as an example the former Asahi site at Killala where there is about half a million square feet of buildings, and a land bank consisting of a further 150 acres bought by Mayo County Council and Moy Valley Resources and an option of a further 180 acres for industrial use. "The site is also serviced by two 110 KV lines and has available 20 million gallons of water per day and represents an ideal example of what could be done," he said.
"We also believe Roscommon should be serviced with gas either from the Corrib pipeline or from the Dublin/Galway line.
"And we find it amazing that, against the background of the many well-publicised difficulties experienced over the past number of years, Erris and its major centres have not been included in the new proposals. It should, for instance, not be too difficult or expensive to have Belmullet supplied direct from the gas terminal," added Mr. Hannick.
He said the Council for the West would continue at every opportunity to press for a fair distribution of the gas throughout the region.
"After all, if this region cannot benefit from a natural gas find on our doorstep what can it benefit from?" he asked. "As we have pointed out recently, the BMW region is already over 3.65 billion euro behind projections for infrastructural development outlined in the current National Development Plan.
"As we have seen in the BMW region, promises are one thing, delivery is another. Everyone in the region- including chambers of commerce, trades unions, community groups and local authorities should be making noises to ensure that the catalogue of missed opportunities is not further added to," said Mr. Hannick.