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New scheme could finally see internet connections in our region move into the fast lane

PUBLISHED: 16:02 18 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:02 18 April 2018

Cable route for proposed Norfolk Vanguard project. Picture: Vattenfall

Cable route for proposed Norfolk Vanguard project. Picture: Vattenfall

Archant

Rural north Norfolk has some of the slowest broadband speeds in the UK, but that could be about to change.

One of Vattenfall's windfarms, at Kentish Flats. Pic: Robin Dawe/ Perfectly Clear MarketingOne of Vattenfall's windfarms, at Kentish Flats. Pic: Robin Dawe/ Perfectly Clear Marketing

Better Broadband for East Ruston (BB4ER) is in talks with Vattenfall, developer of the Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farms, about improving broadband speeds.

This could be secured by running broadband services along the same route of onshore infrastructure needed to connect the wind farms to the National Grid.

Steffan Aquarone, deputy Liberal Democrat group leader, Norfolk County Council, said it could lead to better broadband across the district.

Ruari Lean, Vattenfall’s project manager for the Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm, said: “We were pleased to be approached last year by BB4ER to discuss broadband opportunities.

Vattenfall's offshore Norfolk Vanguard project promises to be one of the largest in the world. Picture: VattenfallVattenfall's offshore Norfolk Vanguard project promises to be one of the largest in the world. Picture: Vattenfall

“We’ll keep exploring with BB4ER, hopefully something can be done to support rural communities and businesses in Norfolk with faster broadband speeds.”

Formed in January 2017, BB4ER aims to provide the East Ruston area with the fastest rural Fibre-to-the-Home broadband connections at an affordable price.

Lesley Marsden, a volunteer with BB4ER, said: “We’re delighted that Vattenfall has responded to our approach so positively and recognise the broadband problems existing in north Norfolk.

“We now have a memorandum of understanding in place to continue talking and working with Vattenfall to assess our ideas.”

One of Vattenfall's windfarms, at Kentish Flats. Pic: Robin Dawe/ Perfectly Clear MarketingOne of Vattenfall's windfarms, at Kentish Flats. Pic: Robin Dawe/ Perfectly Clear Marketing

The group plans to model its community project on one successfully implemented in rural Lancashire.

Mr Aquarone said: “I’m thrilled to see that, as a major energy infrastructure developer, Vattenfall is taking the idea of community investment as seriously as this.

“Poor broadband coverage in north Norfolk is a problem for everyone - businesses, young people and the elderly.

“I’ve been campaigning for some time to look for long-term solutions to broadband and mobile phone coverage and I really believe that community schemes like BB4ER are the way to do this.

“The potential to put a cable in the ground that’s thinner than a pencil, and bring properly fast connectivity to the whole of north Norfolk is very exciting.”

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