Pictured welcoming the news at Hillsborough Castle are Phoenix Natural Gas Chief Executive, Michael McKinstry, and Chairman Peter Ritson, with Utility Regulator Chairman Bill Emery and Board Member Teresa Perchard.

PHOENIX Natural Gas today announced that Hillsborough has become the second town to officially connect to the natural gas network in the company’s highly anticipated project to extend the natural gas pipeline in County Down.

The announcement represents a significant milestone for the company and was marked by a meeting between representatives of Phoenix Natural Gas and the Utility Regulator in Hillsborough.

Following a successful network build, which finished ahead of schedule, the first catchment of properties in Hillsborough are now able to make the switch to natural gas.

A total of 2,200 properties are expected to have gas available to them by 2018.

Michael McKinstry, Phoenix Natural Gas Group Chief Executive, said, “In 2015 the Utility Regulator granted Phoenix Natural Gas a licence to extend its natural gas network to an additional 28,000 homes and businesses across 13 new towns in County Down.

“I am pleased to mark the connection of our second town in the build programme, following the completion of works in Ballygowan where over 1,000 properties have access to the gas network.

“Navigating a successful build programme throughout all stages of the project is a key focus for us and I am delighted that we have achieved this with minimal disruption to local residents and businesses in Hillsborough.

“Phoenix Natural Gas has over 20 years’ experience building the natural gas network locally and in that time has established natural gas as the fuel of choice in the licence area of Greater Belfast, where natural gas is available to 320,000 customers.

“The new project to expand the network is exciting and significant, not only for us, but for the new towns we serve, extending the benefits natural gas brings to the economic, social and environmental prosperity of the area.”

Jenny Pyper, Utility Regulator Chief Executive, welcomed the news, “A key focus of the Utility Regulator’s work is to promote the development of the natural gas industry while protecting the interests of consumers.

“I am delighted to see Hillsborough connect to the natural gas network, providing more choice to local residents and business owners, who will now have the opportunity to avail of the benefits of natural gas.

“This connection will also significantly improve the utility infrastructure of the area.

“Phoenix Natural Gas began construction of the East Down network in April 2016 and it’s great to see this project gaining momentum, with two areas now live and work underway to connect Annahilt, Ballynahinch and Spa later this year.

“I look forward to more areas connecting to the natural gas network and would like to thank Phoenix Natural Gas for their commitment to the build programme to date.”

The project represents a £60 million private investment by Phoenix Natural Gas and will see thirteen towns connect to the natural gas network by 2022 including; Annahilt, Ballygowan, Ballynahinch, Castlewellan, Crossgar, Downpatrick, Dromore, Drumaness, Dundrum, Hillsborough, Newcastle, Saintfield and Spa.

For more information on the benefits of natural gas visit www.phoenixnaturalgas.com.

For more information on the Utility Regulator visit www.uregni.gov.uk

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