CONSTRUCTION of a major new gas pipeline will begin within a month.

National Grid has received consent to build a 196km natural gas pipeline between South Wales and Tirley, in Gloucestershire.

The pipeline is part of a project to transport natural gas from Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, and will provide more than 20 per cent of UK gas requirements.

But it has caused controversy with residents around Corse, south of the Malvern Hills, who have objected to National Grid's plans to build a "pressure reduction installation" as part of the project.

National Grid has appealed against a decision by the Forest of Dean District Council to refuse permission for the installation, with a hearing scheduled for May.

However, National Grid spokesman Caroline Davidson said the ongoing appeal would not stop construction work on the 1220mm diameter pipeline beginning by March.

It is expected to be operational by October, with an existing pressure installation near Tirley being used until the appeal is resolved.

"It is very much a temporary solution, and to take all the gas at the pressure required from the new pipe, we need to have the new installation at Corse," said Mrs Davidson. "We need to get through the public inquiry first and see what happens."

Joseph Gabbott, secretary of the Campaign Against the Pressure Reduction Install- ation (CAPRI), said its objection was against the pressure reduction installation, rather than the pipeline itself. "We think the installation is an eyesore, in the wrong place, and not necessary," he said. "Those views will be tested at the public inquiry."

CAPRI is holding a public meeting about the installation at Corse and Staunton Village Hall at 11am on Saturday, February 24. Pipeline expert Richard Furness will discuss the safety aspects of the installation, and local MP Mark Harper will also attend.

CAPRI has also launched a fighting fund to pay for legal representation at the appeal.

Fundraising events include an unwanted Christmas present auction at Eldersfield Lawn School on Thursday, February 22, and a barn dance at Corse and Staunton Village Hall on Saturday, March 24.

For details, call Angela Gabbott on 01452 780129.