Perthshire

Reference Library – Scotland – Perthshire Broadband

Broadband postcode lottery anger as Angus rural residents are left in the cold

The “blatant inequality” of broadband coverage in Tayside has left people in rural Angus “feeling like second class citizens”. That’s the view of Lib Dem Ben Lawrie, ward member for Monifieth and Sidlaw, who hit out at the “postcode lottery” despite the Scottish Government’s aim for Scotland to become a “world class digital nation” by 2020. Mr Lawrie said it was important that rural communities are not left behind and wants the council to work with telecoms providers to improve the quality of coverage across the county to “an acceptable level for all residents”.

A survey carried out by Infogram from Jan-March this year showed that the average download speed was 14.5Mbs in Angus, compared to 28.7Mbs in Dundee.

Broadband Postcode Lottery Anger As Angus Rural Residents Are Left In The Cold(C) DC Thomson Ben Lawrie.

“It is frustrating to see this postcode lottery coverage,” said Mr Lawrie.

“Our neighbours in Dundee are lucky to have the fastest average download speed in Scotland, amongst the fastest in the UK.

“Meanwhile, here in Angus, fewer than 65% of premises can receive an average speed of more than 24Mbs.

“The biggest gripe people seem to have is the blatant inequality of services.

“People in rural areas often feel like second class citizens compared to residents in more busy areas.

“They have poorer download speeds; they have poorer mobile phone coverage — in the 21st century people should all have equal access to these services no matter where they live.”

Mr Lawrie campaigned with the Lib Dems on mobile phone and internet coverage in run up to the local elections. He said: “In these modern times, dependable and fast access to the internet is becoming ever more important.

“We’re becoming more reliant on internet access for things like work, communicating with friends and family, online banking and shopping — even paying for our garden waste.

“As the internet becomes more central to our everyday activities we need to make sure that rural areas are not left behind.”

A council spokeswoman said broadband and mobile coverage “is essential for Angus companies and residents”. She said: “It is of vital importance to many aspects of an urban and rural life and economy.

“That’s why Angus Council is investing in infrastructure to support our existing businesses and residents as well as attract investment, create jobs and help make Angus the best place to live and work.

“In September our Business Angus Team are piloting a project to support digital connectivity for businesses in Angus who are not currently able to access superfast broadband.

“The team are working to establish connectivity at two sites in Arbroath and Forfar which will also allow us to extend to support two local business parks as well as more rural businesses where infrastructure permits.

“We hope that there may be opportunities to work with local businesses to ascertain whether this infrastructure can also assist with their digital connection needs.

“It is recognised that this is a fundamental part of any business and Angus Council is committed to supporting the Scottish Government’s aim for Scotland to become a world class digital nation by 2020.

“We are interested in hearing from businesses directly about the challenges of digital connectivity and opportunities that could support business growth.”

Angus MP meets UK Minister to push local case

Angus MP Kirstene Hair has met the UK Government’s Minister of State for Digital Matt Hancock MP to push the local case for improvements in broadband speeds. Mr Hancock said the contracts to get broadband to Scotland were “signed more slowly than those for England and Wales”, and that was “because we devolved responsibility to the Scottish Government”. Ms Hair said: “In my first few weeks as an MP, I have already been contacted by constituents with concerns about broadband speeds.

“This is a very important issue for rural areas like Angus.

“We are so reliant on broadband connections nowadays – not just for household use, but for local businesses and pupils studying in our schools.

“Recent surveys have confirmed that the speeds that people are experiencing in Angus fall far below what is expected, and are way behind city areas including Dundee.”

She continued: “I will continue to push for improvements in the Angus area to ensure that no-one is left behind.”

Five-year plan for national park (From HeraldScotland)

SUPERFAST broadband, a range of new walking routes and restoring peatlands have been unveiled as part of wide-ranging plans to improve Scotland1‘s largest national park. Proposals for the Cairngorms National Park include increasing woodland and investing in walking routes on Deeside and Speyside. The five-year plan also would also see action to improve natural habitats across the park for the benefit of local communities and visitor, as well as the plants and animals which depend upon them.

Red deer management policies will also be stepped up in order to ensure overgrazing does not undermine habitats or freshly-planted woodland. The proposal will be considered by the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) board before going to the Scottish government for approval. The 4,528 sq km park covers parts of the Highlands, Aberdeenshire and Perthshire and is twice the size of the Lake District National Park and bigger than the whole of Luxembourg.

A target to have 200 new affordable homes built by 2022 and delivering superfast broadband to “hard to reach” parts of the park has also been announced. The proposal will be considered by the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) board before going to the Scottish government for approval. Grant Moir, the CNPA’s chief executive, said: “There has been an incredible amount of work gone into developing the next National Park Partnership Plan (NPPP) – not only from our staff but from all the partners who have contributed and of course the public who took the time to respond to last year’s consultation.”

He added: “I think that the NPPP addresses a lot of the concerns and comments that were fed back to us and I think we are setting the park on the right course with a good balance between conservation, visitor experience and rural development.

“It is of course for the board to decide on the 7 April if it is the right direction, with the final say resting with ministers.”

A significant proportion of the National Park is made up by the Mar Lodge Estate, which at 29,000 hectares is the National Trust for Scotland’s (NTS) largest property. Stuart Brooks, NTS Head of Natural Heritage Policy, said: “We welcome the ambition of the Cairngorms National Park as set out in their draft Partnership Plan to improve the condition of habitats through deer management and other means.

“Red Deer are a vitally important component of the Cairngorms economy and its ecosystems and both can benefit through collaboration by landowners.

“The National Trust for Scotland, and other landowners, have made substantial progress already in restoring native woodlands over large areas by reducing deer densities.

“We hope this plan will help to encourage further expansion of native woodlands in the Park. Duncan Orr-Ewing, Chair of the LINK Deer Task Force added: “We welcome the CNPA’s step in the right direction to promote sustainable deer management in one of Scotland’s most outstanding areas for wildlife.

“This supports the CNPA’s statutory objectives, which include the sustainable use of natural resources and the conservation of the natural heritage.

“Public interest objectives such as restoration of protected areas and expansion of native woodland should be a priority in the Park and sustainable economic activity and community resilience should benefit from this.”

References

  1. ^ Scotland (www.heraldscotland.com)

Five-year plan for national park

SUPERFAST broadband, a range of new walking routes and restoring peatlands have been unveiled as part of wide-ranging plans to improve Scotland1‘s largest national park. Proposals for the Cairngorms National Park include increasing woodland and investing in walking routes on Deeside and Speyside. The five-year plan also would also see action to improve natural habitats across the park for the benefit of local communities and visitor, as well as the plants and animals which depend upon them.

Red deer management policies will also be stepped up in order to ensure overgrazing does not undermine habitats or freshly-planted woodland. The proposal will be considered by the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) board before going to the Scottish government for approval. The 4,528 sq km park covers parts of the Highlands, Aberdeenshire and Perthshire and is twice the size of the Lake District National Park and bigger than the whole of Luxembourg.

A target to have 200 new affordable homes built by 2022 and delivering superfast broadband to “hard to reach” parts of the park has also been announced. The proposal will be considered by the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) board before going to the Scottish government for approval. Grant Moir, the CNPA’s chief executive, said: “There has been an incredible amount of work gone into developing the next National Park Partnership Plan (NPPP) – not only from our staff but from all the partners who have contributed and of course the public who took the time to respond to last year’s consultation.”

He added: “I think that the NPPP addresses a lot of the concerns and comments that were fed back to us and I think we are setting the park on the right course with a good balance between conservation, visitor experience and rural development.

“It is of course for the board to decide on the 7 April if it is the right direction, with the final say resting with ministers.”

A significant proportion of the National Park is made up by the Mar Lodge Estate, which at 29,000 hectares is the National Trust for Scotland’s (NTS) largest property. Stuart Brooks, NTS Head of Natural Heritage Policy, said: “We welcome the ambition of the Cairngorms National Park as set out in their draft Partnership Plan to improve the condition of habitats through deer management and other means.

“Red Deer are a vitally important component of the Cairngorms economy and its ecosystems and both can benefit through collaboration by landowners.

“The National Trust for Scotland, and other landowners, have made substantial progress already in restoring native woodlands over large areas by reducing deer densities.

“We hope this plan will help to encourage further expansion of native woodlands in the Park. Duncan Orr-Ewing, Chair of the LINK Deer Task Force added: “We welcome the CNPA’s step in the right direction to promote sustainable deer management in one of Scotland’s most outstanding areas for wildlife.

“This supports the CNPA’s statutory objectives, which include the sustainable use of natural resources and the conservation of the natural heritage.

“Public interest objectives such as restoration of protected areas and expansion of native woodland should be a priority in the Park and sustainable economic activity and community resilience should benefit from this.”

References

  1. ^ Scotland (www.heraldscotland.com)