New Minister for State for the OPW Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran has given his backing to the Government's pledge to extend gas network supplies from Athlone to Ballymahon.
Mr Moran made his comments in the wake of recent remarks made by Environment Minister Denis Naughten.
The former Westmeath councillor said it makes sense to provide a temporary, short-term solution to supply the Centre Parcs operation with gas pending the completion of the extension of the gas pipeline from Athlone to Ballymahon.
“The agreement in principle is in place at Government level and what is particularly pleasing to note is Minister Naughten has been informed by Gas Networks Ireland that they believe it will be economically viable to bring the gas from Athlone,” said Mr Moran.
Efforts to follow through on that commitment now hinges on a commercial test applied to the proposed route under the current connection rules as set out by the Commission for Energy Regulation.
Mr Moran, however, dampened any conjecture concerning whether the assessment could scupper the plans set out.
“Minister Naughten has said he has got agreement from Government to run the pipeline from Athlone to Ballymahon with the potential in the future for it to be extended to Longford town and other towns northwards such as Carrick-on-shannon,” he said.
“Over the last year, I have been working with Minister Naughten, Longford County Council, Centre Parcs and Gas Networks Ireland in trying to secure a connection for gas between Athlone and Ballymahon.
“Both myself and Minister Naughten proposed a transmission line from Athlone that will be able to serve Centre Parcs which provides the greater potential.”
Mr Moran hit out at what he termed the “many ‘doubting Thomas’s’ out there” who thought the extension of gas provision to Longford would not be realised.
“This was a project that I was never going to give up on until I succeeded,” he remarked.
“Both Minister Naughten and I firmly believe that the gas network should be developed generally in rural Ireland to provide natural gas to as many areas as possible.”