With a new gas supply now on stream to four Speyside distilleries hopes have once again been raised that agreement can be reached to extend it to local domestic and business premises.
Tormore, Glenlivet, Tomintoul and Craganmore distilleries have each been linked to a new £7.6million gas pipeline delivering 4000 cubic metres an hour – for the first time delivering ‘clean energy’ to the plants.
The new pipeline was laid beneath the A95 before following the B9008 and B9136 to pump gas to the distilleries. The 16-mile long pipeline was paid for by the distilleries and constructed by Fulcrum and as it neared completion sparked hopes in local communities that they might benefit directly.
Their case was taken up by Moray’s MP, Angus Robertson and MSP, Richard Lochhead, who organised a task force that included representatives from the distilleries, Fulcrum and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to look into the possibilities the pipeline presented.
Mr Robertson said: “The new gas infrastructure opens up the possibility of making mains gas accessible to other businesses and homes in Speyside and that is something I am working with the various companies involved and the public sector in Moray.”
Previously a spokesman for Fulcrum confirmed that there could be ‘considerable benefits’ for local communities from the pipeline: “Such a project could offer considerable benefits to local communities, giving those in more remote areas connectivity to cheaper, greener energy.
“We are currently engaging in very early stage discussions with the local MSP, MP and the wider community to ascertain if there is scope to bring natural gas connections to more rural areas.”
The supplier performance manager for Diageo has said this week that the pipeline was already bringing benefits to the local community. Chris Sharkey said: “It has brought real benefits to our businesses and to the local community by allowing us to stop using heavy fuel oil in the distilleries.
“This is better for the environment because it means low carbon emissions and fewer heavy fuel tankers on the roads.”