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Gas to the West? Sure, once we’ve talked to 700 landowners

2015 saw Dalcour Maclaren’s most challenging and large scale project yet – assisting SGN Natural Gas to deliver Gas to the West… Heading up our dedicated team in Northern Ireland, Matt Ducker reports on the challenges we have overcome so far and the progress we continue to make.

This project encompasses the design and construction of 80km of high-pressure, cross-country gas transmission main with branches of intermediate pressure gas mains being teed off to the 'town gates'. This will allow the delivery of a low pressure gas network to eight of Northern Ireland’s large towns west of Belfast, taking natural gas for the first time to thousands of homes and businesses, to a target timescale of late 2018.

Phase I – Referencing and Consultation

To undertake referencing effectively, we developed a dedicated team of Agricultural Liaison Officers (ALOs), who were able to travel and meet with all those affected within the reference area of 176km. Local knowledge was invaluable as the geography covers major river crossings, peat bogs and frequently undulating land - resulting in an emerging corridor that covered nearly 700 landowners we have liaised with.

With this, we have designed a bespoke Landowner Engagement Plan with a unique client reporting strategy to monitor the development of the scheme. Given the challenges faced, including legacy issues from previous utility schemes, only 3% of landowners are identified as ‘non-receptive’. This demonstrates that positive engagement with landowners by experienced ALOs has reduced the requirement for recourse to Statutory Powers.

Furthermore, we are directly consulting with organisations such as the Ulster Farmers Union; Land & Property Services (Land Registry); Transport NI; Department of the Environment; Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs; and the Rivers Agency.

Phase II – Investigations and Design

Due to the relatively short times scales, investigations and surveys have been undertaken across several route corridors in order improve efficiency of the scheme’s design. This wealth of reporting has also lead to a much more comprehensive design review in demonstrating route and methodology choices for planning and the associated Environmental Impact Assessment.

The fast pace of the scheme called for Dalcour Maclaren to provide further resources in terms of skilled personnel and GPS mapping technology – capturing data and landowner interactions in order to meet this challenge. We are operating a paperless data handling system in consultation to streamline communication and ensure information used is the most up to date.

Phase III – Project Delivery

We are now at a stage where we are confirming legal agreements for the scheme; compiling and issuing and access packs, accommodation and enabling works; and finalising pre and post construction drainage design.

This is being undertaken alongside the development of compensation budgets and packages and well as reinstatement instructions, in order to work towards a seamless transition from construction to completion.



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    Northern Ireland