High powered business leaders from across Northern Ireland have attended a Gas to the West showcase event at LacPatrick Dairies in Strabane, the first location connected to the new mains gas network which will extend to a total of eight main towns West of the Bann.
Representatives from a range of public and private sector organisations attended the information event organised by SGN Natural Gas in conjunction with LacPatrick which included a tour of its state-of-the-art new dairy technology centre at Berryhill Road, Artigarvan.
VIP guests included the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Maoliosa McHugh and officers from a number of local councils within the catchment area of Gas to the West which is scheduled to deliver mains gas and meters to 40,000 customers over the next 40 years in Cookstown, Coalisland, Derrylin, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Magherafelt, Omagh and Strabane.
Senior officials from the Department for the Economy, Invest NI, the Utility Regulator, Mutual Energy, the Consumer Council, Federation of Small Business and local Chambers of Commerce were also in attendance together with representatives from DAERA, CAFRE and key local manufacturing companies in the Strabane area which is the first of the eight towns to benefit from the £250m infrastructure investment.
Also in attendance was Michael McAlister, the newly appointed Chief Executive of South West College which is planning to offer gas safety training courses in partnership with SGN Natural Gas as part of the roll-out of the Gas to the West project. Welcoming the visitors to the event, Gabriel D’Arcy, Chief Executive of LacPatrick, said its connection to the new gas pipeline was crucial to the company’s decision to invest in a multi-million pound new dairy processing facility which opened earlier this year.
He continued: “LacPatrick is pleased to report a high level of satisfaction with our gas powered dairy processing and technology centre and we would strongly recommend natural gas as the fuel of choice to other manufacturing companies within the Gas to the West catchment area.”
Danny O’Malley, Director of SGN Natural Gas, heraldedLacPatrick’s success story as a vote of confidence for other food processing and manufacturing companies in the area currently considering their energy saving options.
“The benefits of natural gas are well documented and we have every confidence that Gas to the West will deliver for both domestic and business customers across the western area in the longer term,” he stated.
Paying tribute to the collaborative partnership working with all of the stakeholders involved in making Gas to the West a reality, Mr. O’Malley added: “SGN Natural Gas looks forward to actively engaging with communities across the eight towns scheduled for connection to the new gas network with the aim of fulfilling their domestic and business energy needs through Gas to the West.”
John French, Chief Executive of The Consumer Council said: “We welcome the added energy choice for consumers through the availability of natural gas to the west. Natural gas offers consumers a choice that provides consumer protection through regulation, is cleaner than other fossil fuels and provides pre-payment meters that help consumers manage their spending on energy”.
The first domestic connection to natural gas was also completed in Strabane’s Derry Road area last month with other homes scheduled to follow in the near future.