Phoenix to outline gas plans

Phoenix to outline gas plans

29 November 2017

PLANS to spend £6m over the next five years to bring natural gas to homes and businesses in Downpatrick will be outlined at an event in the town tomorrow.

The event at the St Patrick Centre between 3pm and 7pm is designed to provide residents and business owners with an opportunity to look at a map detailing what areas will be able to connect to natural gas once work on the new pipeline is completed in 2022.

Work on the Downpatrick scheme — which starts in the New Year — is part of a £60m investment by the company across East Down to link Crossgar, Drumaness, Ballynahinch, Castlewellan, Dundrum, Newcastle, Saintfield and Spa to the natural gas network.

Phoenix aims to provide an estimated 5,000 properties in Downpatrick with access to natural gas and while the major investment has been welcomed, there are concerns about the disruption it will cause. 

Ahead of the arrival of contractors, Phoenix has admitted the scheduled construction programme will impact on traffic and restrict residents’ access, but the company insists it will take all reasonable steps to keep disruption to a minimum and do what it can to maintain access to homes, businesses, shops and schools.

Last week, Phoenix representatives met with several Downpatrick councillors to outline the detail of the scheme which will see a main gas pipeline extended from the Belfast Road into the heart of the town centre including Church Street, Market Street, Irish Street, Church Lane and Mount Crescent. The mains pipeline is also being extended over the course of next year to a number of densely populated housing areas.

Phoenix’s Director of Communications, Jonathan Martindale, explained the work in Downpatrick will take place in phases and that over the past number of months the company has been engaging relevant stakeholders including political representatives, business and community groups “to ensure a smooth and efficient programme of works and to keep disruption to a minimum.”

He added: “We were delighted to meet with a number of local councillors last week and provide an update on the first phase of works ahead of what we hope will be a very well attended public information event tomorrow.” 

Councillor Cadogan Enright said he is delighted to see the natural gas pipeline extended to  Downpatrick, explaining that during last week’s meeting the focus was on five key town centre junctions and the critical section of Market Street that caused problems when the sewerage infrastructure was upgraded three years ago.

“I am keen to ensure the planned works programme is undertaken efficiently and safely with as little disruption to traffic and communities as possible,” he said.

“I sought reassurance that consideration is given to weekend and night working as well as working over school holiday periods to help ease congestion and reduce the overall impact on the town’s medieval streetscape. Whilst an element of disruption is inevitable with an infrastructure project of this size, the project has been well considered.”

Councillor John Trainor said he was pleased to offer a local perspective and communicate key community considerations which he hopes will help mitigate disruption and reduce the impact of works as construction gets underway in January.

He added: “I recognise the work that Phoenix is doing to ensure the public is well informed of the works plans and would encourage residents and business owner to attend tomorrow’s public information event.”