MLA Claire Sugden has described the confirmation that Firmus Energy has no plans to bring natural gas to Portrush as ‘disappointing’ .
The Independent MLA made the comment after Minister for the Economy Gordon Lyons said there were no plans to extend into Portrush.
In March 2005, Firmus Energy was awarded a licence to develop a new natural gas network outside Greater Belfast, and following the completion of the North West pipeline in 2004 and the South North pipeline in 2006, the company was able to build the new gas networks in towns across Northern Ireland.
In the Causeway Coast & Glens area, Firmus Energy is laying more than 77km of mains pipelines in Limavady, Coleraine and Portstewart over the next three years, bringing gas to nearly 8,000 new homes.
With less than 3.5 miles between the towns of Portstewart and Portrush, many in the Co Antrim seaside resort were hoping to be able to make the switch.
Responding to Minister Lyons, the East Londonderry MLA said: “The benefits of natural gas over oil – environmentally, economically and functionally – are well understood.
“It is welcome that new homes in my constituency will be able to benefit from this, but unfortunate that a town so close to the other pipelines in Coleraine and Portstewart will not be able to do the same.
“There is certainly a market for it, so I will be asking further questions as to the reasons for not extending the pipelines in that direction.
“The minister did say it was possible this would change in future and Firmus could potentially move into Portrush if there were sufficient gas loads and if the Utility Regulator approved the move.
“While he was unable to give an estimate as to when this could happen, it gives an element of hope for people in Portrush keen to make the move from oil to gas.”