MSP welcomes broadband move but disappointed it can’t be accessed now

A Highlands and Islands Labour MSP says the Applecross community should be allowed to connect into new superfast broadband sooner rather than later.

The link is now in place, installed by energy giant SSE as part of a project to supply the nearby Navy base at Sand Bay.

However, residents cannot get immediate access and will have to wait until one of three bidders wins the broadband contract under the Scottish Government’s R100 scheme.

MSP Rhoda Grant has this week written to SSE to ask if it or the MOD can grant access sooner.

“I can’t see any reason why the area’s community company can’t get inked into this, in the interim. That would really help people until one of the R100 contractors takes over,” said Mrs Grant.

“While I welcome the move to establish this scheme, it is disappointing that the small community of 200 cannot getting going with better broadband right away.

“It is well known that Applecross and surrounding areas suffer from some of the lowest broadband speeds in the country with some people have no internet connection, so this project was such a good idea for the community.

“However, it’s fair to say, with the tourist season about to take off, the community is now frustrated at having to wait to see the benefit.”

Last year, the nearby British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre needed fibre optic cabling to the range terminal control building at Sand. This brought disruption to the area when it was under construction and the MOD agreed that the community could receive a broadband benefit from the link. SSE Enterprise Telecoms installed the cabling.

Following contact from concerned residents that they would not be allowed benefit from the new broadband line, Mrs Grant last year convened a meeting in the Scottish Parliament between SSE and the Applecross Community Company’s Development Officer to help broker a solution. She also wrote to the Ministry of Defence.