Rural broadband boost for Outer Hebrides

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A Local Action Group in the Outer Hebrides has been awarded over £310,000 to provide broadband access to remote villages on the islands of Lewis, Harris and North Uist under the LEADER Broadband Challenge Fund, part of the Scotland Rural Development Programme.

The group is one of five LEADER Local Action Groups across Scotland which are set to share around one million euros in funding to improve coverage and bring faster broadband to rural communities across Scotland.

Responding to a parliamentary question today, Rural Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “I am pleased to announce today that five LEADER Local Action Groups will receive awards under the Broadband Challenge Fund announced on 1 July 2010.

“These are Borders, Forth Valley and Lomond, Outer Hebrides, Orkney and South Lanarkshire.

“Thirteen Local Action Groups bid for the funding. The assessment panel, comprised of Scottish Government and external experts in rural community development and IT, judged the winning bids as providing the maximum value for money in terms of advancing our rural development objectives and deploying relevant broadband provision.

“The estimate is that around 88 businesses will be supported from these bids.”

The Outer Hebrides LEADER Local Action Group will receive £310,300 from the LEADER Rural Broadband Challenge Fund. The funding is expected to kick-start projects in the villages of Tolsta and Dalmore on the Isle of Lewis, Tolmachan and Huisinis on the Isle of Harris and Grimsay on North Uist to provide broadband access to these areas, which currently have no broadband service. The communities will be provided with technical support and maintenance to ensure that all subscribers receive a reliable broadband connection.

• North Harris Trust: North Harris Community Broadband. The North Harris Trust will create a small network of community relay sites to provide broadband to the geographically isolated townships between Tolmachan and Huisinis in North Harris. This takes into account a total of eight villages.

• Dalmore Common Grazings: Dalmore Broadband Project. Due to the terrain of the area surrounding the Dalmore village, no homes in the lower area of the village are able to access broadband. The aim of this project is to provide broadband connectivity to the village of Dalmore through laying fibre-optic cables.

• Grimsay Community Association: Grimsay Broadband For All. Grimsay Community Association will establish a relay site in the Kallin Township where there is currently no existing broadband provision for the surrounding properties and six businesses located at Kallin harbour.

• Tolsta Community Council: Tolsta Community Council Enhanced Broadband Project. Funding will provide access to broadband services in three interconnecting townships - Glen Tolsta, North Tolsta, and New Tolsta. Tolsta Community Council will provide two broadband relay sites to enable the extension of the Connected Communities Broadband network to various households in Tolsta.