The proposed path of the Western Outer Ring Main pipeline.

By Colin MacGillivray

A PROPOSED 50-kilometre pipeline will transport natural gas from Plumpton in Melbourne’s west to Wollert, if given the green light.

The Western Outer Ring Main, WORM, project aims to link natural gas infrastructure in western Melbourne with the existing network in the north and east of the city via a high-pressure pipeline terminating in Wollert.

The Wollert compressor station and network city gate will then effectively form a conduit between natural gas basins in Gippsland and Bass Strait east of Melbourne with the Otway basin west of Melbourne.

The proposed project will add to energy infrastructure company APA’s Victorian Transmission System, VTS, of gas pipelines.

An APA spokesperson said the WORM pipeline would increase the amount of natural gas that could be stored for times of peak demand.

They said the project would improve the efficiency of the VTS and ensure a steady natural gas supply to growth areas in the north and west of Melbourne.

According to APA figures, about two million customers use gas every day for domestic applications including cooking, heating and hot water.

Natural gas is also a fuel for industrial and commercial businesses across Victoria including manufacturers.

“The WORM is an approximately $170 million investment to deliver the missing link in the high-pressure gas transmission pipeline network,” the APA spokesperson said.

“Construction of the WORM will support the VTS in meeting peak supply demand in winter periods and contribute to managing potential gas shortages.

“APA is also committed to providing opportunities for local suppliers and contractors to participate in the project.”

City of Whittlesea chief executive Craig Lloyd said the project would benefit all of Victoria.

“This is a very important project that will connect the eastern and western sections of the Victorian Transmission System between Plumpton and Wollert, providing greater gas storage at the Iona Underground facility to help meet winter peak gas demands,” he said.

“While the project will not provide direct gas supply to Wollert, it will provide an opportunity for outer developing areas to be provided with natural gas as further development happens.”

The City of Whittlesea is member of a technical reference group set up by APA along with other State Government agencies, Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and Melton City, Hume City and Mitchell Shire councils.

An environmental effects statement examining the potential environmental impacts of the project is due to be completed in early 2021.

With the pipeline’s proposed path crossing natural landmarks such as Merri Creek, the APA spokesperson said the company wanted to minimise its impact on the environment.

“We are now developing an environment effects statement and stakeholder engagement is ongoing as part of that process,” the spokesperson said.

“Further information on how stakeholders can get involved in available at apa.com.au/worm.”

The final statement will be exhibited for public comment once finalised.

People can find out more about the proposal, including an interactive map and links to surveys and discussion forums, by visiting apa.mysocialpinpoint.com.au/worm.

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