Concerns raised that rural areas of North Yorkshire could miss out on superfast broadband

In Yorkshire, 94.9 per cent of homes and businesses are able to take advantage of superfast broadband.
In Yorkshire, 94.9 per cent of homes and businesses are able to take advantage of superfast broadband.

Questions remain over whether some rural properties will ever get superfast broadband connections, despite an £11.5m Government grant to improve connectivity in remote areas of England’s largest county.

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Hundreds of rural properties in North Yorkshire, previously overlooked for superfast broadband due to costs, are set to get fibre to the premises technology, to ensure remote areas are “not left behind in the connectivity slow lane”.

About 90 per cent of properties in the county now have superfast connections, and by June 2021 that will have increased to 95 per cent, so the Government funding will be targeted towards the remaining properties which are the most costly to connect.

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The average cost per connection for most properties in the county was initially £204, but the cost will rise significantly as the project moves into deeply rural areas.

During a visit to the North York Moors, rural affairs minister Lord Gardiner said the high costs North Yorkshire County Council faced connecting a large number of remote properties had been recognised with the biggest grant to a local authority nationally.

He said: “We think that everyone in the country, whether they live in the town or the countryside in the more remote communities should have connection because that is the way we are increasingly going to be able to run businesses and children are going to be able to see all the things they want to see.

“We want to ensure that the very more rural and remote parts of the country do get connected and that’s why North Yorkshire is going to have the largest of all the grants.”

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However, he declined to commit to further funding should the £11.5m not see all the remaining five per cent of properties in the county connected to superfast broadband.

The minister added: “Our aspiration is to get everyone connected. That’s why we are working on this particular scheme.”

The county council’s leader, Councillor Carl Les, said while the extra funding was much appreciated, it was unclear how many remote properties it would cover.

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He said the authority remained committed to “getting as close as possible” to every property connected and as the council had spent taxpayers’ money on extending connectivity despite facing difficult budgetary decisions, the Government should provide more funding if necessary.

Cllr Les said: “It costs thousands of pounds for the very hard to reach properties. The closer we get to 100 per cent of properties being connected, the more we will have to use things like satellite connections.”