The Gas to the West Project is a significant gas pipeline development which will extend the high pressure (HP) and intermediate pressure (IP) gas network in Northern Ireland. RPS was appointed in 2015 to provide planning, environmental and engineering services for the development, including delivery of the environmental impact assessment (and appropriate assessment) and coordination of extensive pipeline ground investigations. RPS has also input significantly to the route selection process. The information accumulated through environmental baseline surveys ensured that the decision process for the final alignments of the proposed pipeline routes made due consideration for the environment. This ensured that the least environmentally constrained route was selected.
The HP network will involve the installation of approximately 80km of steel gas transmission pipeline. The new IP PE gas pipeline has a design pressure of less than 7 bar and is approximately 100km in length. The project will bring gas to the towns of Enniskillen, Derrylin, Omagh, Strabane, Dungannon, Coalisland, Cookstown and Magherafelt.
The development falls within the category of ‘major regional importance’ under planning law in Northern Ireland and is being administered by the Strategic Projects Division of the Department of Infrastructure.
The project presents a number of challenging aspects in terms of ground conditions, large scale river and road crossings and environmental sensitivities. Baseline assessments and site investigations have ensured that appropriate construction methodologies, such as trenchless crossings, are being used in areas where avoidance of constraints was not possible.
The RPS in-house planning team was responsible for overseeing all elements of the planning application including stakeholder consultation which was submitted in Q3 2016. The Gas to the West Project successfully received Approval of Planning Permission from the Department of Infrastructure’s Strategic Planning Division in March 2017- four months after application.
The stakeholder consultation element of the project was Highly Commended at the British Construction Industry (BCI) Awards in 2017.