A new era for Wexford town as natural gas begins to flow
NATURAL gas is flowing for the first time around Wexford, bringing with it the promise of major cuts in energy costs and securing 1,000 jobs in the town.
The €16.5 project was carried out in two phases, the first the construction of a 44km pipeline from the existing network at Campile to the edge of Wexford town and the second an 8km network around the town, which later this year will supply domestic customers in Wexford town as well as the business community.
Celtic Linen, Coca-Cola, Danone, Wexford Creamery, Wexford General Hospital and Irish Pride in Taghmon are among the first to benefit from the supply, although many more are in the process of signing up following a recent meeting for local businesses arranged with the Chamber of Commerce and Gas Networks Ireland.
Domestic customers will also be able to benefit from the new supply.
During this year, the pipelines will be extended throughout the town, to Carricklawn, Clonard Road, George Street, Hill Street, John's Gate Street, John Street Upper and Lower, Newtown Road, Rowe Street, Spawell Road, Summerhill Road, Westgate, Slaney Street, Redmond Place, Old Hospital Road, Coolcotts Lane, the N11 to Ferrycarrig, Whitemill Industrial Estate, and Clonard Village/Wexford Retail Park.
An even larger list of streets will be connected during 2017. Where it is possible, gas lines will be laid at the same time improvements are carried out to the water supply network.
The project is a personal triumph for Celtic Linen's Peter Scallan who spent a number of frustrating years lobbying for the supply of natural gas to the town, which will save major energy users 40 per cent compared to their current costs.
'It's taken seven years, but it's here last,' said Mr Scallan.
'They are switching it on today (Tuesday), filling the line from the Maldron around to here,' said Mr Scallan, 'then it will be between six and eight weeks for the first business to be connected,' he said.
'This secures 1,000 jobs in Wexford, not only in Celtic Linen, but with our suppliers well. Without gas we could not continue in Wexford,' he said, 'it will cut our energy costs and has the second benefit is reducing our carbon footprint and particulate emissions.'
'It allows us to buy cheaper electricity as well. We can bundle our electricity and gas together.'
Madeleine Quirke, the CEO on Wexford Chamber said the gas connection was 'great news for Wexford'.
'The arrival of natural gas can only embellish our offering in terms of FDI and the cost savings to businesses will in turn retain and create jobs throughout the region,' she said.
'Following years of negotiation we can now say that Wexford HAS Gas and I am confident that its use as a source of energy for heating and electricity generation will be appreciated by many.'
Availability of Natural Gas is a key consideration which many large international companies look to when choosing a location in Ireland.
As Wexford competes with other towns around the country for investment and jobs, this infrastructure will significantly strengthen the hand of local development agencies such as the IDA and Wexford County Council. The lower cost and flexibility of Natural Gas will also help existing local enterprises to grow their businesses.