Fears gas pipeline route change could see Manjimup miss out
There are fears homes, businesses and industry in the South West town of Manjimup may be denied the opportunity to access natural gas through the extension of a Pilbara gas pipeline.
West Australian Premier Colin Barnett confirmed a 2008 election commitment to link the Dampier to Bunbury gas pipeline to Albany is back on, after years of doubt due to a lack of demand.
Mr Barnett said the Government was considering a private bid by Canadian energy infrastructure company ATCO to undertake the project.
A total of $7 million has been set aside to identify a route servicing Manjimup and Bridgetown, however ATCO is reportedly planning for the line to be redirected through Katanning instead.
Manjimup shire president and Liberal Party state Upper House candidate Wade De Campo said he would be bitterly disappointed if that was to occur.
“After seven years of an expectation of us having reticulated gas coming through Manjimup, not only for industry but potentially for residential houses, it would be very disappointing if that now was at the last final hour diverted to Katanning,” he said.
“This could mean we’d be left out of the gas industry completely unless there’s another option that might be put on the table.”
Mr De Campo said he had not been officially briefed on any plans to change the expected route.
“I’m not saying I haven’t had a private conversation, but I haven’t officially been told that we may be left out of the loop,” he said.
The Shire of Manjimup fears it could miss out on getting reticulated gas. (Flickr/ Daniele Civello)
“Maybe there’s an underlying strategy that I don’t know about with sending it to Katanning because nobody has officially come to us and said you’re off the list.
“But hopefully they’ll be telling us exactly what’s going on.
“I think the State Government sees us as the future of horticulture and food but you need to be able to downstream process with food, and gas is one big expensive part of it.
“Not having reticulated gas in your town limits your opportunities.”
The Department of State Development website said the Government had planned the pipeline route “to meet existing demand in the South West and maximise the economic potential of gas supply”.
It said the Manjimup route was preferred because it minimised impact on private landholders and the environment.
Branch-off pipes to Pemberton and Boyup Brook had also been flagged.
Katanning pleased with pipeline possibility
Meanwhile, the Shire of Katanning has welcomed the talk of having the pipe re-routed towards the Great Southern farming town.
Shire chief executive Julian Murphy said council had not had discussions with the State Government about the project, but believed it could benefit the town’s abattoir and attract more food production industries.
“We think that it would develop more industry here and support the industries that we already have,” he said.
“It would be a very positive thing for business and industry.
“We hadn’t really been given any advice or seen anything about that previously so it was a little bit of a surprise, although we have been interested in seeing the pipeline come this way for some time.
“We’ll just have to wait and see exactly how this proposal is being dealt with by Government.”
A final route will be subject to planning and approvals processes, while ATCO has refused to disclose any further details about its bid.