18/10/2012

Gas Storage To Be Built Under Lough

A £440m gas storage facility is to be built a mile underneath Larne Lough.

The development will enable 500m cubic metres of natural gas to be stored in caverns underneath the lough.

The new bank will be able to hold enough gas to provide energy for Northern Ireland for sixty days. Consequently, it will decrease Northern Ireland’s dependency on foreign gas imports and will enable the government to reduce gas prices during inflation.

It will also enable the country to have access to gas in emergency situations, as Northern Ireland becomes increasingly dependent on wind power for its energy.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: "This security of supply of energy will be a significant step forward in the way we manage our energy sector. North Sea gas supplies are declining steeply and this facility will make a significant contribution to the security of gas supplies for the whole island of Ireland and indeed for Britain."

The Minister added: "I am very conscious that there are environmental concerns about this. However there has been an exhaustive consultation process and I am satisfied that that this proposal can obtain other relevant consents and proceed in a way that creates jobs and develops the economy whilst protecting the environment.

"We have demonstrated that energy, environmental and economic needs can be reconciled successfully. SeaGen, the birthplace of modern tidal energy sitting in the Narrows in the mouth of Strangford Lough proves this point. This approval can do the same."

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the decision.

She said: "Natural gas is used to fuel two of Northern Ireland’s power stations and also by an increasing number of business and domestic energy consumers. As we currently have no natural gas storage facility this is a strategically important project as it will enhance our security of energy supply."

(IT)

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