Thousands more homes warm up to natural gas

Jonathan Martindale, sales and marketing director at Phoenix Natural Gas
Gail Bell

AN additional 28,000 homes and businesses in Co Down will benefit from natural gas thanks to 'on target' expansion plans by Phoenix Natural Gas.

Following an announcement in 2015 to bring natural gas to 13 new towns in Co Down, the company has been busy extending the network and connecting local communities.

In the 20 years that it has been operating within Northern Ireland, Phoenix Gas has established natural gas as the fuel of choice in its licence area, now serving more than 200,000 customers.

And with the expansion of the network in Co Down well on target, an additional 28,000 homes and businesses are set to see the benefits, such as greater fuel choice and improvement of local utility infrastructures within towns.

The £60 million private investment project got under way in 2016 and already Phoenix has made significant progress, with the aim to build an additional 350 km of network over the next few years.

Jonathan Martindale, sales and marketing director at Phoenix Natural Gas, said: “Phoenix Natural Gas is an engineering company at heart and we're excited to be back doing what we do best.

“Using state-of-the-art technology, our construction teams have been working efficiently to make real progress on this project and ensure minimum disruption to the local communities in which we are working.

“We are delighted that we are significantly ahead of schedule with this project, with over a third of planned network laid to date and five towns now connected to the network - Annahilt, Ballygowan, Ballynahinch, Hillsborough and Spa.”

Mr Martindale said demand for connections in the new 'live' areas continued to gain momentum: “It's encouraging to see customers make the switch and upgrade to natural gas,” he continued.

“The social, economic and environmental credentials are well known in the Greater Belfast area and it's great to see customers in Co Down starting to enjoy its many benefits, including instant heat and water and a constant fuel supply, to name a few.

“Our construction programme continues at present in Crossgar and Downpatrick and we look forward to connecting these towns and the towns of Drumaness and Dromore within the next couple of months.”

The final phase of the programme will see Castlewellan, Dundrum, Newcastle and Saintfield connected to the network by 2019.

“All of this would not have been possible without the buy-in from local communities in the new areas which we serve,” Mr Martindale stressed. “Public acceptability is a key factor in the effective delivery of new infrastructure projects.

“From the outset, Phoenix has focused its efforts on embedding itself within the community in order to ‘give something back' and extend its established corporate social responsibility programme to these new areas.“

This, he said, had included support for local communities through a range of initiatives and events including Hillsborough International Oyster Festival, the SOMA Festival in Castlewellan, Ballynahinch Lions annual 10K run, East Down Athletics Club Rollercoaster Races in Downpatrick, Ballynahinch Olympic FC's summer youth tournament and Spa Primary School's annual walk and family fun day.

Phoenix Natural Gas also supports a number of youth projects including, this year, Mourne and Down Youth Council's Youth and Future Talent Awards which recognise exceptional young people in the area who work hard work to improve their local communities.

“As Phoenix continues its network development over the next few years, connecting the community with Phoenix is a key focus for the company, from both a commercial and CSR perspective,” Mr Martindale added.

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