Government launches new drive to support rural communities

DEFRA says that communities and businesses in the most remote areas will benefit from better access to wireless networks as a result of plans announced today as part of the government’s wider drive to grow the rural economy.

A new £7 million fund will test out new ways to bring together satellite, wireless and fixed line internet connectivity, helping farm businesses access lightning fast, reliable connectivity in remote areas for the first time.

The results of the new approaches will also help rural businesses in trial areas make the most of new agricultural technologies by improving connectivity on their land, for example using new drone technology to monitor crops and livestock in real-time, support landscape and wildlife conservation efforts, or develop interactive experiences for tourists.

The new fund comes alongside the government’s commitment earlier this year to deliver improved, high-speed broadband via satellite connectivity for up to 35,000 homes in the most remote parts of the UK through an £8 million grant scheme, giving them a broadband connection that will be up to ten times faster than what is currently available to them.

The fund is one of a broad range of steps the government is taking to boost rural communities on housing, transport, digital connectivity and jobs as set out in a new publication today.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said “The countryside makes up over 90% of the UK’s land mass, it is home to millions of people, and contributes over £250 billion to our economy in England alone. Rural areas are rich in human and natural potential with strong communities and entrepreneurial businesses.

“This government is committed to making sure that the needs of people and businesses in rural areas are at the heart of policymaking. We want to go further in unleashing that potential and support people in rural areas to build the sustainable future they want to see. Unleashing Rural Opportunity sets out what we have already delivered for rural communities and new initiatives to build on that record.”

Split across four broad themes of housing, communities, connectivity and growth, the plan aims to help create jobs and drive growth in rural areas, including proposals to expand internet provision and scale up the availability of housing in rural communities.

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