A $50 MILLION pipeline carrying natural gas to Warwick from Toowoomba, could be built by the Southern Downs Regional Council if enough businesses in town register their interest in an upcoming online survey.
The council has been working behind the scenes on desktop studies since the concept of piping gas appeared on their radar four years ago.
If the pipeline were built, reticulated gas supply would initially be available to commercial customers, with a long-term prospect of connecting residential customers.
In a release sent out by the council earlier this week, the provision of gas, along with a secure water supply and the ability to deal with trade waste were highlighted as areas that would make the region an ideal place for people to consider establishing businesses.
Southern Downs Mayor Cr Peter Blundell said reticulated gas was a major enabler to attract new businesses and assist existing businesses to expand.
Do you think there is a need for a natural gas pipeline to provide reticulated gas in Warwick?
This poll ended on 18 June 2015.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
"It would allow the Southern Downs to offer gas as an alternative heating utility to either those establishing a new business or expanding an existing business," he said.
"Using natural gas for heating, generating steam and production purposes is one of the most cost effective and sustainable ways to conduct business.
"The Warwick urban area is not connected to a reticulated gas service, and most businesses and industries using natural gas rely on bulk onsite storage tanks."
With the council currently more than $30 million in debt, questions have been raised as to whether or not ratepayers would be expected to foot the $40 to $50 million cost of the pipeline.
Cr Blundell said there was no plan to fund the project through ratepayer contributions.
"Depending on the level of interest and demand from businesses for a gas supply to Warwick, funding for such a project would be pursued with infrastructure management companies and businesses and the State and Federal governments," he said.
"To justify this investment in infrastructure, companies would need to be committed to accessing natural gas to operate their businesses."
The plan has the backing of the Warwick Chamber of Commerce, with President Lewis von Steiglitz describing it as 'absolutely beneficial' to the town.
"There are quite a few businesses that have brought it up a number of times," he said.
"It's hard to work out what the actual demand is but for many businesses you've got to have it.
"It's one of these things that brings potential for businesses that could employ dozens of people."
Mr von Steiglitz pointed to businesses such as abattoirs and those with high energy usage as benefiting from the pipeline.
Mayor Peter Blundell said a number of businesses had already expressed interest in establishing reticulated natural gas in Warwick and the Southern Downs.
"The project being achievable would be dependent on the demand from businesses and advocacy from local government," he said.
"The potential provision of natural gas would have ancillary benefits to community facilities such as hospitals, as well as providing long term opportunities to the residents of Warwick for heating and cooking."
The council will conduct an electronic survey of commercial, health and industrial businesses to gauge the need for reticulated gas supply.
Background details along with a link to the survey will be made available by the council next week.
IF YOU'RE a business owner with an opinion on the pipeline idea, drop us a line on 4660 1364 or join the conversation online at www.warwickdailynews. com.au.
Towns serviced by natural gas pipelines
- South East Queensland (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and Toowoomba)
- Hervey Bay