Businesses have warned of the risk to the rural economy that can only be fixed by government investment in broadband across the countryside.
The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, briefed MPs ahead of the debate led by Devon MP Neil Parish on the management and delivery of rural broadband in Westminster Hall today (4 March).
CLA President Henry Robinson said: “We urge MPs to keep the pressure on this vitally important issue. The figures are stark. Ten to 15 percent of the population still cannot get broadband. The Government is only aiming to hit 95 percent by 2017. This still leaves at least five percent with no access to the internet and no target set for when full coverage will finally be delivered.”
Mr Robinson called for more government investment in broadband to be spent in rural areas to help address the risk to rural businesses.
He said: “The rural economy is at risk because Defra and the Rural Payments Agency are the first government departments to move to a ‘digital-by-default’ strategy.
“Online applications for farm payments under the Common Agricultural Policy are being rolled out so an effective, reliable and affordable broadband connection for farming businesses has never been more important. Farmers and landowners are reliant on these vital payments for providing food, water and protecting the environment. Yet more than 10 percent of these businesses are struggling to get online to apply.”
Read the briefing for Neil Parish MP in full here.
Follow the debate on the management and delivery of broadband live at 2.30pm here.