PROPOSALS to build a €63 million gas pipeline to supply industries in the Cork region have been unveiled at an oral hearing.
Gerry Keane, deputy managing director of Bord Gáis networks division, told the Bord Pleanála hearing that gas imported from Britain would be pumped through the country’s pipeline network and through the new 47km line, which will run from Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary, to Midleton.
Bord Gáis wants to start construction next March, completing the pipeline within six months.
As part of the project the company is seeking access to land owned by about 120 people.
John Gordon, Bord Gáis’ senior counsel, told the hearing that 80 of those landowners had already agreed to provide wayleave access, but he was seeking a further 40 compulsory access orders under the 1976 Gas Act.
He said Bord Gáis had a very good 30-year track record in laying pipeline and to date had constructed 1,500km of underground pipeline throughout the country.
Nearly all the land involved is agricultural, although nearer Midleton, where the land becomes more urbanised, the 600mm wide pipeline will be reinforced and buried at a depth of 1.2 metres.
Reinforced pipeline will also be deployed at 51 road crossings and 16 river crossings, including the River Blackwater.
A total of 9,500 tonnes of steel pipeline will be laid along the route.
Cork County Council officials said the chosen route didn’t compromise any future growth of urban areas and welcomed the fact that it would provide people with an alternative power source.
Officials added that as the pipeline passed some areas of special conservation, works should be agreed in advance with Cork County Council and the National Parks & Wildlife Service to ensure minimum disruption to flora and fauna.
The county council also wants a €253,000 fund set up by Bord Gáis to provide communities with some form of compensation and to ensure the upkeep of local roads.
However, Mr Gordon said Bord Gáis had no difficulty setting aside some money under the ‘community gain’ programme, but the company was proposing to give 20 community councils along the route payments of €5,000 each.
South Tipperary County Council officials said the project would provide quality infrastructure that wouldn’t impact on amenities in their area.
Jervis Good, an environmental expert with the Department of the Environment, said he didn’t have an objection to the project if conditions were attached to pipe laying works, especially across the River Blackwater so it wouldn’t impact on aquatic life.
Bord Gáis experts envisage that a micro-tunnel would be built under the Blackwater to reduce any impact on the river.
The Commission for Energy Regulation has already received an application from Bord Gáis, but has said it will not make a ruling until after Bord Pleanála has made its decision.
Ministerial consent was granted under the Gas Act last August.
Bord Pleanála senior inspector Ann-Marie O’Connor is expected to make a decision on the application in December.
The hearing at the Midleton Park Hotel concludes today.