Earl of Iddesleigh stops villagers getting fibre broadband after objecting to BT laying cables across his land

Residents of the Devon village of Upton Pyne, near Exeter, have been unable to upgrade their stately 2Mbps broadband connections with more reliable and faster fibre broadband, not because of BT, but because of the objections of a local landowner. Local landowner, Earl John Stafford Northcote the 5th Earl of Iddesleigh, objected to BT siting four poles on his 2,500 acre estate, saying he was “against spoiling the area”, according to DevonLive1. BT installed a broadband fibre cabinet in November, in preparation for the final stretch of cabling to the village. But that would have required the cable to be carried by the telephone poles that the Earl objected to so strongly – or being buried underground, which would be more expensive.

A spokesperson for BT said that the company was “disappointed that it is currently not viable to provide superfast fibre broadband for the village”. Local residents, too, have been described as “furious”. Their broadband connections, partly because of their distance from the nearest exchange, maxes out at just 2Mbps. They have branded the landowner’s attitude as “ridiculous” and the whole situation as “a shambles”.

Villager Fabian King said: “We’ve got the cabinet here and we’ve got the fibre optic cable on the poles. There’s one gap of four poles, that’s all we need to sew it up.”

Maybe the real reason the Earl does not want the locals having fast broadband is that they might find out what his son and heir is up to. Apparently Viscount Thomas Stafford St Cyres2 has been arrested twice for drunk driving, and was banned from the road for three years3.

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