WESTERN Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has written to Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, to raise a number of points regarding the publication earlier this year of “Scotland’s Digital Future - Infrastructure Action Plan”.
The UK Government has set a target of 99% coverage for mobile phones, with the Scottish Government having an expectation of securing an appropriate proportion of the related funding given the significantly lower mobile coverage currently available in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK.
Alasdair Allan commented: “Such percentage targets, like these set by the UK Government, are not always helpful – particularly in places like the Western Isles which make up such a small percentage of the population and could, theoretically, be excluded entirely from investment without there being any significant impact on the national target being met.
“While the advances with regard to 3G and 4G are significant, it is important to remain mindful of the pressing need for basic 2G coverage in many rural areas. This applies to many areas in the islands which remain without reliable coverage.
“As an example in Uist and Barra three out of four GP surgeries, five of six ports, three of four dental practices, the four largest harbours, at least three schools and many hotels and community centres cannot get a reliable mobile signal. Without investment, the on-going implications for healthcare and our island economy will become increasingly serious.
“I have therefore written to Nicola Sturgeon to ask for an update on the representations made by the Scottish Government on this issue and particularly whether the UK Government is willing to listen to recommendations which would channel an appropriate level of funding into rural areas like the Western Isles.”