Not cooking with gas: Council vote delays natural gas rollout for Marong

Huntly residents Dale and Jan Johnson received their natural gas connections in 2014, but the wait is continuing for Marong after a council decision.
Huntly residents Dale and Jan Johnson received their natural gas connections in 2014, but the wait is continuing for Marong after a council decision.

A COMPANY connecting Marong premises to natural gas says it is “surprised” at the City of Greater Bendigo’s decision to knock back a storage facility at the western entrance to the town.

The decision at last month’s council meeting means about 300 premises will have to wait indefinitely for natural gas connections.

TasGas completed the pipe network in Marong earlier this year, but it will sit idle until a daughter station – which will store natural gas – can be built in the town.

TasGas Victorian regional networks chief executive officer Simon Himson said the council’s decision “threw a spanner in the works” for Marong.

“Developers in that area are crying out for a gas connection,” he said.

“We will continue to look for appropriate sites for the daughter station, but Marong has limited industrial land and it requires an area with B-double access, power connection and telecommunications.”

The daughter station was proposed for a block of land on the Calder Highway bordered by Landry Lane and the Marong caravan park.

Mr Himson said the company will appeal in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, with the matter set for April. In the meantime, TasGas will continue to work with council to find an alternative location.

The gas rollout, designed by the former Coalition government, involves trucking gas to areas without a natural gas connection. The gas is then stored in a daughter station, to be circulated through the town.

Council officers recommended that the station be approved, but councillors voted against the motion.

The decision, moved by Cr Matt Emond, states the daughter station would be an “inappropriate use of the land” and it would have an “adverse impact” on the character of Marong and the caravan park.

While Marong waits for a natural gas connection, other central Victorian towns will soon be able to connect.

More than 670 premises in Heathcote will be able to connect to natural gas by the end of this month. A public meeting will be held in the town on Thursday night.

The connection will also be complete in Maldon at the end of October, and the first connections are expected soon after.

They were among 11 Victorian towns included in the rollout of natural gas.