Center Parcs gas pipeline project goes out to tender
A multi-million euro project to construct a 21km pipeline to being gas to the new Center Parcs holiday and leisure resort in Co Longford is up for grabs.
Gas Networks Ireland has launched a tender for the project, which will see the pipeline brought from Co Westmeath to Co Longford, winding its way across the M6 motorway.
Additional, shorter pipelines are also required as part of the project, bringing the total length of pipes to be laid to 27km.
Center Parcs is spending €233m building its first ever Irish park, and the pipeline will also open up natural gas supplies to homes and businesses in Co Longford.
Center Parcs appointed Sisk as the main contractor last month. Earthworks being undertaken by Roadbridge have been underway for some time, and construction was set to begin this week.
The park, set to open in 2019, is located in the Newcastle Woods, close to Ballymahon.
Center Parcs acquired almost 400-acres of land from State-owned forestry group Coillte on which to construct the facility.
Last year, Center Parcs announced that it had reached a deal with Gas Networks Ireland to extend the natural gas pipeline through Co Longford.
The leisure group is contributing €3m towards the project.
The chief executive of Center Parcs, Martin Dalby, has said that securing a natural gas pipeline to feed the complex was a "fundamental requirement" for the project.
Gas Networks Ireland has just issued an invitation to tender for the largest section of the project.
The new 21km pipeline will traverse a rural path from a location a short distance from the east of Athlone town, and cross the M6 motorway outside it before winding its way through relatively flat rural land to Rathmore, near the Center Parcs resort.
Denis O'Sullivan, head of commercial, Gas Networks Ireland, welcomed the start of the gas pipeline construction process.
"This development facilitates the future expansion of the gas network in Longford and offers local homes and businesses the opportunity to benefit from the significant cost and environmental benefits natural gas delivers," he said. Preliminary work on section one of the gas pipeline has already commenced in the area and mains pipe laying is expected to be carried out in summer 2018, following the tender process which is now underway.
Work on another, shorter section of pipeline, will begin next month.
The Center Parcs development, which will be known as Longford Forest, will be open 365 days a year and accommodate up to 2,500 guests in 470 lodges and 30 apartments.
It will feature a large number of activities and facilities, such as restaurants, shops and spas, as well as a 'sub-tropical' swimming park that will be Ireland's largest such attraction.
The park is expected to employ as many as 1,000 people and to contribute €32m a year to the economy.
Center Parcs has its roots in The Netherlands, but the UK and Irish arm is now owed by Canada-based Brookfield Property Partners.
It acquired the business in 2015 for about £2.4bn from US private equity giant Blackstone.
Blackstone had been considering a flotation of the Center Parcs business but instead opted for a sale.