Superfast Broadband Network : Peter Peacock calls for Government statement on possible Highlands and Islands inclusion

13 October 2010

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Peter Peacock has called on the Westminster Government to officially announce that a superfast broadband network is to be funded in the region as soon as possible.

The MSP, who has been campaigning on this issue for many months, was speaking after UK Government sources revealed that a scheme is to be created in the Highlands as part of a project which could cost up to £35million.

Details of the places the network would cover are not yet known but it is understood to include Alness, Dingwall Wick, Thurso and Portree. However, it is yet to be confirmed if the Western Isles will benefit.

The network will receive UK Government funding which will be topped up with additional money from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and other sources, including the private sector.

Mr Peacock said: "I hope the Coalition Government will make this announcement soon as it is vitally important for the economy of the Highlands and Islands that we get faster broadband. I also hope that announcement will confirm the Western Isles will be part of the scheme."

He explained: "In August I travelled to London to meet Rob Sullivan, Head of Broadband Delivery UK, the Government’s delivery vehicle for broadband policies, to make the need and case for significant new investment in broadband.

"I said that although we faced the greatest challenges in delivering high speed broadband to the Highlands and Islands, we also know there are solutions in sight to the problems.

However, we need Government money to make that happen as the private sector would not provide the services we need because of our relatively low population and high costs of infrastructure investment, because of our geography.

"I am pleased that the Government appears to have listened, but the quicker we get on with creating a superfast broadband network in the Highlands and Islands, including the Western Isles, the better.

"We still have a long way to go to get the services we need and even if this project is funded, welcome though that will be, it won’t solve all our problems."


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