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Extending the gas grid: connecting regional Victoria to reticulated gas

In the lead-up to the 2010 Victorian state election, the Victorian Liberal National Coalition committed to providing $A1 million to fund a feasibility study into the provision of natural gas to Victoria’s six Murray River regions.

Upon announcing the plan in November 2010, Victorian Nationals Leader and then Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said “In the 21st century, it is absurd that this vast area of regional and rural Victoria is not connected to reticulated natural gas.

Following its election win, the Ballieu Government has established the Regional Growth Fund. The Fund, which will come into effect from 1 July 2011, provides $A1 billion for infrastructure projects in regional Victoria.

Part of the funding will be used to complete investigation of an underground natural gas pipeline connecting the Murray Valley.

Swan Hill Rural City Council Chief Executive Officer Dennis Hovenden said “Now that the Regional Growth Fund has come online, the process can get underway for the $A1 million feasibility study into natural gas for the northwest, with Regional Development Victoria currently in the process of appointing consultants for the study,”? said Mr Hovenden.

“This feasibility study will be able to provide answers in regards to the project, including the best route for a possible pipeline.”?

Mr Cruickshank says the funding is most welcome. “Together with the Murray River Group of Councils (which includes Swan Hill Rural City Council, Mildura Rural City Council, Gannawarra Shire Council, Shire of Campaspe, Moira Shire and Loddon Shire), Swan Hill Rural City Council is pleased that the $A1 million feasibility study into the natural gas pipeline is going ahead.”

When asked how many people would benefit from the construction of the pipeline, Mr Hovenden says “The pipeline will serve the municipalities of Moira, Gannawarra, Swan Hill, Buloke, Mildura, Murray, Wakool, Balranald and Wentworth – therefore, at least 150,000 combined population. This doesn’t take into the account the benefits to industry right through to northwest Victoria and into southern New South Wales, as well as to the environment.”?

Mr Cruickshank adds “Provision of natural gas to the region will bring many benefits to the Murray on a broader strategic scale, including on a business level. It will be another incentive for value adding businesses to move to our region, particularly companies in the food and agriculture industries. Currently produce from the region is trucked to Melbourne to be processed and then trucked back to the region to sell. If value-adding companies re-locate it would increase food production and reduce food miles.

“All of the above then makes us an attractive place to relocate businesses and population, easing population pressures in regional cities and metropolitan Melbourne.”?

At the time of print details regarding the pipeline route, scope and timing of the project and relevant tender opportunities were not available.

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