Huw Irranca-Davies MP backs rural broadband campaign
MPs have thrown their support behind a campaign that aims to improve broadband connectivity in rural communities.
The Battling for Broadband initiative, launched by Farmers Weekly magazine, is seeking to bring the same standard of internet services currently available in the UK's towns and cities to more remote areas.
Huw Irranca-Davies, MP for Ogmore and Shadow Minister for Food and Farming, praised the scheme and warned that a growing digital divide between urban and rural locations is having a negative effect on the national economy.
Low-quality broadband connectivity is inhibiting the potential of businesses based away from the country's municipal areas, he claimed.
"Rural living and working have many advantages, particularly if remote working and advances in remote communications can be harnessed," Mr Irranca-Davies said.
The MP stated that slow broadband also has other impacts on rural life, including making it difficult for farmers to complete online forms on food security and other issues.
"In that respect, I commend the Farmers Weekly Battling for Broadband campaign," he added.
Highlighting the need for better internet provision in rural communities, the campaign revealed that two million people in the UK have poor broadband, while 166,000 cannot access the technology at all. The vast majority of these people live away from towns and cities.
Responding to Mr Irranca-Davies' comments, Under-Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Richard Benyon said the issue of form-filling was created by the previous Labour government.
"A lot of farmers live in areas where there is lamentable or no broadband signal, so they ended up having to take their forms down to the pub on a memory stick," he claimed.
The problem of slow rural broadband has also been highlighted by the Country Land and Business Association, which recently criticised the government for investing £150 million in urban connectivity.
President Harry Cotterell stressed that the need for state broadband funding is greater in rural areas.
- Battling For Broadband (Farmers Weekly)
- Huw Irranca-Davies, MP for Ogmore and Shadow Minister for Food and Farming