Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has approved a major river crossing in Enniskillen which will be carried out by SGN Natural Gas as part of multi-million pounds investment in new energy infrastructure delivering natural gas to homes and businesses in the west of Northern Ireland.
The river crossing works programmed near the Lakeland Forum will allow the rest of Enniskillen to avail of a natural gas conversion, following access to mains gas already available to local properties as a result of the continuing expansion of the distribution pipeline in the island town.
This river crossing will be one of the largest single pieces of infrastructure development to take place in Enniskillen and play a key role in realising objectives within the Council’s Community Plan in relation to health and wellbeing and economic development, councillors were told.
It is estimated that construction activity including directional drilling in the river bed will commence in April/May this year, although this timeframe depends on fish migration in the Erne as part of the geological considerations approved by the relevant stakeholders. Council was reassured that public access will be maintained at the Lakeland Forum insofar as possible while the work is taking place. Reinstatement works are scheduled for completion in Summer 2021.
Commenting on the announcement, the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Diana Armstrong said: “Fermanagh and Omagh District Council welcomes further investment in the natural gas infrastructure which will offer wider access to a more environmentally friendly fuel choice for home heating requirements. This investment will enable households throughout Enniskillen to avail of natural gas and help to significantly reduce carbon emissions both in our district and the wider network in the west.”
“The Council has received assurances from SGN Natural Gas that the proposed river crossing will have minimal impact on those wishing to use the playing fields and pathway at the Forum and it will work closely with the company to ensure the smooth and timely completion of the works scheduled over the coming months.”
David Butler, Director of SGN Natural Gas, welcomed the approval to proceed with the latest significant advancement of the ‘Gas to the West’ project in Enniskillen, highlighting the successful collaborative working between Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and SGN Natural Gas.
Mr. Butler explained that the distribution pipeline has been steadily developing throughout Enniskillen over the past year and natural gas is currently live to a limited number of properties in the town. The river crossing now needs to take place in order to meet increasing consumer demand for natural gas and ensure the rest of Enniskillen can access the same benefits as their neighbours.
He said: “SGN Natural Gas met with Council officers in late Summer 2020, adhering to all Public Health Agency guidance in relation to social distancing for an on-site meeting to determine the necessary steps so that the trial holes and pre-construction scoping work could be fully undertaken. We are delighted to report that this work has now taken place on the Lakeland Forum site, the playing fields and also on land adjacent to the playing fields near the Sligo Road which is privately owned.”
“All three crossing points are critical in taking the live natural gas infrastructure to the town centre and surrounding areas. SGN Natural Gas would like to place on record our thanks to all respective landowners for their engagement and accommodation of these scoping works which has enabled us to identify the most feasible and safest way to undertake this work."
"This crossing will be one of the largest single pieces of infrastructure development to take place in the town and will be undertaken in a way that will ensure access is maintained at the Lakeland Forum. In addition, a detailed and direct engagement plan will be developed to ensure all stakeholders and local community including clubs who are regular users of the facilities are communicated with well in advance of these works taking place.”
The project ensures there is now a clear pathway to a fully decarbonised, hydrogen-ready future for Northern Ireland. The SGN Natural Gas network can ultimately play a vital role in decarbonisation, removing millions of tonnes of CO2 from the west of Northern Ireland where oil/solid fuel use is prevalent.