A new agreement has been finalised between the Country Land and Business Association and the National Farmers' Union that aims to bring rural broadband 'one step closer'."It’s vital that we boost growth in rural areas such as Rothbury and support communities across the UK to get the infrastructure they need to compete on a global scale" said Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander."Our £460,000 investment will play a major part in bringing superfast broadband to 1,500 homes and businesses, creating jobs and sustainable growth for the region."The new package of rates and terms will mean not-for-profit or private companies looking to install the infrastructure needed can work with farmers and landowners.This is expected to help the government in its aim to install superfast broadband to rural areas where the previous broadband investment has been weak or non-existent.Rothbury in Northumberland is set to become one of the first communities to receive the service under the government's Rural Community Broadband Fund as announced by Alexander on a visit to the area today.More than 1,500 homes and businesses are to benefit from superfast broadband after Defra and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport approved £460,000 funding to help the uplands village of Rothbury grow its businesses and overcome social isolation."The importance of good rural broadband cannot be over-emphasised" said CLA President Harry Cotterell."It is essential for business, whether starting up or expanding, essential for education and research and an important communication tool for all rural communities.""We are confident this wayleaves package will help secure consent for a broadband infrastructure to be rolled out to the final third of the country who still suffer with chronically poor broadband."NFU Vice President Adam Quinney said: "We know how increasingly important rural broadband connection is to farmers and those with diversified businesses.
"We very much hope that these wayleave agreements will help to deliver broadband to the rural areas which currently have poor, unreliable or non-existent broadband connection. Fast rural broadband is essential for our forward-thinking and dynamic farming industry."
The CLA and NFU example agreements suggest payment rates for broadband apparatus that landowners can enter into with not-for-profit companies, or private companies wishing to install a community broadband network.
There could also be circumstances where a landowner wishes to waive payment in return for their own high-speed broadband connection to the network. The suggested rates and agreements will help to cut down the time and cost of negotiating wayleaves, making it easier and more cost effective to get the infrastructure for broadband put in place.
Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey said: "The publication of the CLA and NFU rural wayleave agreement is great news." "It will go a long way to making our roll-out of rural broadband cheaper and quicker by reducing the cost and time taken in negotiating individual land access agreements, while providing certainty to communications providers and ensuring landowners receive appropriate compensation."The introduction of superfast broadband, which will provide broadband download speeds of 30mbps and above, will have a major impact on the community and how local people and businesses communicate with the online world. It will enable tourists to make deposits for bed and breakfast accommodation online, making it easier for children to do their homework online and doctors and other health care specialists to improve their services.The £20m Rural Community Broadband Fund targets the most hard to reach areas of the country and will provide 50% of the overall £920,000 project cost.The local community has volunteered to help dig some of the cable trenches in order to get the work underway. It is hoped that work could start as early as Spring.Rural Affairs Minister, Richard Benyon said: "This is great news for the people and businesses of Rothbury, helping them to overcome the social isolation caused by the current lack of superfast broadband as well as benefitting the local economy.""It is commendable that Rothbury people are so keen to see their community grow that they have volunteered to dig some of the broadband trenches themselves. The new broadband will give them greater access to a whole range of services both locally and nationally."