Roadworks resume to extend natural gas network

Roadworks resume to extend natural gas network

8 January 2020

WORK continues this week on the multi-million pound scheme to expand Northern Ireland’s natural gas network to East Down.

Phoenix Natural Gas has been working across the district for the past two years with contractors  recommencing work on Monday to lay a new mains pipe in Downpatrick, the district’s largest town.

Work is also due to start at Lynn Doyle Place in the town and at Mill Hill in Castlewellan and Todds Hill in Saintfield as part of a district-wide £60m investment which aims to provide 28,000 customers with access to mains gas.

Work on the Downpatrick scheme represents a £6m investment by the company in the town which is also linking Ballynahinch, Castlewellan, Dundrum, Newcastle, Saintfield and Spa to the natural gas network.

As the largest town in the extension project, Downpatrick is set to benefit from a multi-million pound investment to improve the town’s infrastructure and deliver the many benefits of natural gas to the area.

On Monday contractors started work to provide a new mains pipe at the Ballyhornan Road, between the Knocknashinna and Ardglass road junctions.

When this has been completed, contractors plan to move to nearby Edward Street where work is scheduled to last for one week.

Over the coming weeks, a new mains pipe will be laid at Racecourse Hill, between the Killough Road and Stream Street junctions, with the work scheduled to last for two and a half weeks.

A new mains gas pipe will also be laid at the Flying Horse Road on the outskirts of the town, between the Ardglass and Killough road junctions. Work in the area is expected to take around four weeks to complete.

Phoenix says while it understands that its planned programme of work will cause some disruption, it will take all relevant measures to mitigate this. In addition, the company says it is pleased that the interest levels from homeowners in Downpatrick wishing to connect to the gas network have been consistently strong.

In a letter to local politicians, Phoenix says that it continues to receive regular queries from householders that don’t currently have access to the mains network, encouraging the company to make gas available as quickly as possible. 

Downpatrick area councillor Dermot Curran has asked residents and commuters in the town to remain patient as work on the multi-million pound scheme continues to provide householders and businesses access to a new form of energy.

“Phoenix has written to residents who are most likely to be affected by the next phase of pipe-laying to ensure that they are fully aware of what is being proposed,” he continued.

“The company recognises that its investment does result in disruption but is quick to resolve issues when they arise. The £60m investment across East Down to deliver natural gas is very significant.”

Cllr Curran also praised Phoenix for its engagement with residents and the business community as it rolls out its pipe-laying programme across the county town in particular.

The Downpatrick councillor has also confirmed that he plans to contact Phoenix officials to discuss the potential for weekend working as part of the drive to keep disruption to a minimum.

Cllr Curran said while the arrival of natural gas has been welcomed in many quarters, Phoenix faces the unenviable task of delivering a lengthy construction scheme while keeping residents and business owners reasonably happy.

He added: “The company has done its very best to date and there is no doubt that delivering the natural gas network is challenging. It is also not without its difficulties at times due to various factors outside the company’s control.

“As work continues this week and over the months ahead, it is important that people remain patient and understanding as contractors get on with the job of providing consumers with increased choice when it comes to selecting their energy provider.”