Only six houses in Invermay to get natural gas despite election promise

INVERMAY residents are demanding answers after the release of tender documents showing only six households in their suburb would be connected directly to a proposed natural gas pipeline.

Invermay was promised natural gas in 2010 as part of a Baillieu government election commitment to selected towns throughout regional Victoria.

But the state opposition says Energy for the Regions tender documents reveal the government forecasts only six household connections and one business to natural gas during the next decade.

Invermay Recreation Association president Ian Martin said residents had not heard anything about submissions received or actions taken, nor had they seen a map of the properties forecast for connection.

“I suspect we’re being snowed,” he said.

“They haven’t spoken to us, so how do they know what the uptake will be?

“They say they’re going to connect Invermay and there are many more than six houses in Invermay.

“When a government floats the idea they’re going to do something, you would hope they would do it.”

Ben Bulmer, spokesperson for Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan, said the document referred only to connections made directly to the proposed main gas pipeline.

“Most connections are made to the wider reticulated network, not directly to the main pipeline,” he said.

“It also fails to take into account future residential and commercial developments which may arise as a result of connecting the community of Invermay to the gas network.”

But State Member for Ballarat West Sharon Knight said the tender document was for the reticulation system, so it appeared Baillieu Government expected to connect less than three per cent of the homes in Invermay to natural gas.

“There are more than 250 homes in Invermay, but we now know only six of them are forecast to be connected to natural gas – so much for Ted Baillieu’s pre-election promise,” she said.

“People in Invermay are rightly sceptical about the Baillieu Government’s commitment to delivering natural gas to Invermay.”

In 2010 the Coalition government committed $100 million over four years to extend natural gas across Victoria.

But documents obtained last year by the state opposition under the Freedom of Act last year showed Victorian gas distribution businesses believed it would not be viable to connect all the towns.

Mr Martin said he was also dubious about the economic viability of the proposal.

He is calling for an alternative solution, where gas bottles could be subsidised for rural communities where natural gas was not available.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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