Hopes for homes and businesses being able to tap into the national gas network have been raised by plans brought forward by Moray’s political leaders.
The region’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, has revealed that he has reached an agreement on a study into a £8million gas pipeline supplying local distilleries being extended to homes and business premises in the Speyside area.
Mr Lochhead and his Westminster colleague Angus Robertson MP say that they have had a large number of requests from residents seeking their help in finding a way for homes to benefit from the gas pipeline.
As a result a meeting was arranged at the Glenlivet Distillery with representatives from Chivas and Diageo as well as the companies behind the creation of the pipeline, Fulcrum and Scotia Gas Networks.
Following that meeting Mr Lochhead said: “The significant decision we reached to establish a joint private and public sector task force to connect more of Speyside to the gas network could deliver real benefits for local industry and homes.
“If a joint effort between the private and public sectors makes the economics stack up better, this will be a game changer for Speyside. Jobs will be attracted to the area and local homes will be able to connect to the gas network.
“This project could result in a huge boost for the local economy and aid efforts to tackle rising fuel costs and fuel poverty for residents in rural Speyside.
“At our meeting it also became clear that the whisky companies would welcome a more concerted effort to further expand the network in Speyside.
“Some whisky companies have already invested in gas connections but the industry is keen for further connections and for the network to be improved to allow this to happen.
“Now that the whisky companies and the gas network companies have agreed to the idea of this task force, I am seeking the involvement of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Moray Council, as well as other relevant public sector players. I have already briefed the chief executives of both organisations with a view to the first meeting of the new task force being scheduled soon.
“The task force’s objectives will be to understand what needs to be done to expand the network and the scale of investment required for the next stage of infrastructure upgrade required to bring thousands of more premises on to the network.
“Angus Robertson MP and I are prepared to do all we can to make this happen. If the private and public sectors get behind this then it can materialise, and bringing gas to homes and businesses in Speyside and the wider region will deliver real economic and social gains.”
Angus Robertson MP added: “It is encouraging that our local whisky companies, that are such big players in the local economy, are now signed up to the idea of a joint task force which has the potential to deliver real benefits for local people as well as local businesses. Richard and I will be making every effort to make this happen.”