Labour TD for Longford-Westmeath, Willie Penrose has welcomed the commitment from Minister for Communication, Climate Control and the Environment, Denis Naughten, to review the criteria for the connection of rural towns to the natural gas grid, having raised the issue in the Dáil.
Deputy Penrose wants to know if the criteria will be revised to ensure towns such as Kinnegad, Kilbeggan, Moate, Castlepollard and Delvin will be connected to the national gas grid.
Deputy Penrose said: “While a main gas line stretches from Mullingar to Athlone, running east to west across the county, apart from serving those main towns there are many smaller urban settlements not included. I raised in the Dáil with the Minister responsible what plans are in place to ensure connections to the gas network can be facilitated to other towns and villages in Westmeath.
“In 2015, the then Commission for Energy Regulation approved a new network connections policy, which created the opportunity to reassess the feasibility of connecting certain towns to the gas network. With much talk from the Government on supporting rural Ireland, it’s now critical this issue is progressed to ensure towns can benefit by being connected to critical infrastructure.
“An interim report is due by the end of 2017 that will examine the wider costs and benefits of gas network extensions, to include possible climate and decarbonisation aspects, as well as regional and rural development benefits such as supporting rural centres. I hope as soon as this review is completed that towns such as Kinnegad, Kilbeggan, Moate, Castlepollard and Delvin can be considered for connection to the national gas grid.”