Enterprise minister Arlene Foster has welcomed the publication of Utility Regulator’s consultation on the ‘preferred applicants’ for licences to take forward the Gas to the West project - which includes Mid Ulster.
Arlene Foster said: “I welcome the publication today of a consultation paper by the Utility Regulator stating that Northern Ireland Energy Holdings and Scotia Gas Networks are the preferred applicants for new licences to take forward plans to extend natural gas to the main towns in the West, including Dungannon, Coalisland, Cookstown, Magherafelt, Omagh, Strabane, Enniskillen, and Derrylin.
“I also welcome the European Commission’s clearance for the NI Executive’s grant assistance of up to £32.5million to support the licensees in constructing the main pipelines within the project.
“I am fully committed to encouraging extension of the gas network where this is economically viable. Today’s news represents an important stage in the £200 million Gas to the West project. This will offer natural gas to up to 40,000 business and domestic consumers in the West.
“As the cleanest burning fossil fuel, natural gas offers a greener, more efficient and convenient alternative to oil and coal. It will help to lower manufacturing and production costs for companies and improve business competitiveness. In addition, it will provide domestic consumers with greater choice and benefits such as easier budgeting of energy costs by opting for a gas pre-payment meter.”
The Minister added: “Once the Utility Regulator’s competition is complete, I look forward to the formal award of the new gas conveyance licences which will allow the developers to obtain planning and other consents. I hope to see the start of works on the ground to provide the new gas networks as soon as possible.”