A MAJOR new excavation project has begun to tunnel underneath the River Mourne in Strabane.
One of the first innovations of its kind in the area, the subterranean drilling work is being undertaken by SGN Natural Gas, as part of the on-going Gas to the West project.
Over the coming weeks, engineers will burrow deep below the water table on the Tinnies side of the Mourne before eventually surfacing on the left bank.
The project has also received a cautious welcome from anglers who have indicated that if there is any good time of the year to tunnel under the Mourne – in terms of protecting fish stocks – that time is now.
This week, David Butler, head of engineering with the company explained that all the necessary legislation had been followed to allow access to the river adjacent to Bradley Way for the work to take place.
Describing too the river crossing as a hugely significant element of the Gas to the West development, he confirmed that several environmental impact assessments had been carried out and approval granted by the relevant agencies.
Mr Butler said, “We have engaged with all the relevant statutory and government agencies and all the necessary permissions have been received. All of our stakeholders and partners have been informed of this latest phase of the process which will ensure that over 1,500 homes and businesses in Strabane will have access to natural gas from January next year.”
SGN Natural Gas have indicated that the subterranean mission is scheduled to be completed within five weeks.
“So long as it happens in the next few months, that’s the best time for something like this to happen,” well-known Strabane angler, Barney Winters said.
“The fish travelling up the river are no longer there. So if it had to happen, that time is now.”
To date, some £15million has been invested to date creating the infrastructure to bring natural gas to Strabane.