Councillors query Firmus Energy over work in town

ASSURANCES were sought over the efficiency of carbon monoxide monitors during a presentation by Firmus Energy to Banbridge District Council last week.

Councillor John Hanna raised the issue during a presentation given by Mark Prentice, managing director of Firmus Energy, and Tony Ingram, senior engineer.

Mr Hanna wanted to know if the monitors were installed as part of the installation process and was told by Mr Prentice that safety was “paramount” and the monitors were always installed and correctly positioned in a home or business.

During the presentation, the Firmus Energy representatives were also queried over prompt reinstatement of roads which have to be dug up while gas pipes are laid.

Councillor David Herron said he was concerned about the quality of the infilling around the pipes and asked for assurances that quarry stones were used and the site was “properly vibrated” so the road wouldn’t sink. “I wouldn’t like to see what comes out of the road going back into the ground,” said Mr Herron.

Mr Prentice said the company took reinstatement of roads “very seriously” and there were standard procedures to follow, with Roads Service being responsible for signing off the work. “We take reinstatement of roads very seriously and we haven’t had any complaints yet,” said Mr Prentice.

The costs and economic benefits of switching to Firmus Energy were outlined to councillors during the presentation, during which Mr Prentice said homeowners could benefit from annual savings of around 40 per cent on domestic heating bills, with the business community in Banbridge saving in the region of £2.5m per year.

During 2011, Firmus Energy is proposing to lay pipes in the Scarva Road and Peggy’s Loaning area of Banbridge, with work already having started in Church Square in the town.

Mr Prentice said property owners in the vicinity of the pipe-laying sites would have the option of switching to natural gas and that the network was being built around “customer demand”.

“We envisage that as a result of this work, a total of £2,582,000 per year will be ploughed back into the Banbridge economy,” he added.

To date, £2.8 million has been invested in the district by Firmus Energy, with 25 km of pipe laid, 2,100 properies passed and 400 customers connected to natural gas.