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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Boost for superfast broadband roll-out in Cumbria

A deal has been brokered that should make it easier to roll-out superfast broadband in Cumbria.

A multi-million pound operation is about to get underway to boost online speeds across the county.

The move is eagerly awaited by businesses and those living in some of the most remote areas, many of whom cannot get broadband.

Now there is hope the process of rolling out that system could be helped by a new package of wayleave agreements that should make the upgrades easier and more cost effective.

The deals, brokered by the National Farmers Union and the Country Land and Business Association, will reduce the cost and time taken in negotiating individual land access agreements between landowners and telecommunication companies installing broadband infrastructure.

Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart, one of Cumbria’s most vocal broadband campaigners, said: “Any decision which will ease the provision of high-speed broadband to our most remote and rural communities is very welcome news.

“Broadband remains the single greatest contribution to our economy, growth, or services we can make.”

The CLA and NFU proposal suggests payment rates or agreements that landowners can enter into with companies, which could include the decision to waive payment in return for their own high-speed broadband connection to the network.

It is hoped that this agreement will provide certainty to communications providers while still ensuring landowners receive an appropriate level of compensation.

Mr Stewart hopes that the move can help other communities replicate the success of those at Fell End in Eden, who have led the way in securing faster online speeds for their area.

He added: “Cumbrian communities regularly find themselves ahead of the curve and the Fell End community has already shown that community engagement in the roll out of local broadband infrastructure can encourage local landowners to waive charges where there is a clear community benefit at stake.

“I’m delighted with this work of the NFU and CLA, which should make it much easier to replicate the Fell End model in other rural communities, allowing for broadband roll out in circumstances where communication companies may otherwise have concluded it was an unaffordable investment.”

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