Faster broadband pledge goes out to consultation

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Regional Chief Reporter

A COMMITMENT to bring good quality broadband to all homes in the Yorkshire Dales by 2015 has been announced – with more populated areas getting superfast broadband.

The pledge is contained within the draft National Park Management Plan (NPMP).

The document has been produced by organisations including district and county councils, the Environment Agency, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), Natural England and representatives of local businesses like the Dales Farmer Network.

It lays out a strategy for looking after the Dales landscape for the next five years. Three areas are identified as central: They are: improving the quality of the tourism offer; getting good access to broadband and enhancing the wildlife of the national park.

Carl Lis, chair of the NPMP steering group, said: “Access to good quality broadband is crucial for local businesses and households.

“Through the draft NPMP, we are making a commitment to ensure all premises across the national park have access by 2015 - with superfast broadband in place for areas with significant population.”

Natural England’s area manager for North Yorkshire, David Shaw, said: “The draft NPMP recognises the critical role that farmers and landowners play in supporting the extraordinary range of internationally-important wildlife within the national park.”

Consultation on the document began this week at the same time as a separate consultation was launched on the first draft of the YDNPA’s local plan.

The final version will contain the detailed policies that will be used to decide planning applications and the future development of land and buildings from 2015 to 2030.

Meanwhile, Yorkshire’s national park authorities have warned that their landscapes are under threat from “dangerous” legislation designed to speed up the rollout of new internet and mobile phone services.

The organisations overseeing the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors are unhappy at plans to strip them of their power to influence the look and positioning of phone masts and telephone cabinets within the national parks.

The Government says measures – part of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill currently making its way through Parliament – are necessary to ensure rural areas receive improved broadband and mobile phone coverage.

But David Butterworth, chief executive the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said he did not believe there needed to be a weakening of the existing legislation.

He said: “National parks were established with a clear purpose to protect their landscapes, wildlife and heritage. It is not appropriate to pick and choose when such protection should be afforded.”

His stance was shared by Chris France, director of planning at the North York Moors National Park Authority.

For details on both documents, visit yorkshiredales.org.uk

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