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Broadband engineers protect ‘invaluable’ Lincolnshire wildlife

Tuesday, October 20th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Engineers installing fibre broadband in Lincolnshire have had to take special care to safeguard the area’s rare wildlife.

BT Openreach workers took expert advice from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust before carrying out work to lay fibre cables in Copper Hill and Duke’s Covert.

Fibre laid in the two areas is taking superfast broadband to around 70 properties in the village of Welby, between the towns of Grantham and Sleaford.

But both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – the roadside verges at Copper Hill have a particularly rich limestone flora and are the last known Lincolnshire locality for the Chalkhill Blue Butterfly as well as the most northerly point for the Man Orchid in Britain.

The adjoining Duke's Covert is old an limestone grassland home to common and greater knapweed, mignonette, burnet-saxifrage, dropwort, field scabious and columbine, which is a scarce plant in Lincolnshire.

Following advice from the wildlife trust, Openreach engineers brought in specialist equipment to lay more than 6,000 metres of cable and ducting without causing damage to the area.

John Watt, roadside nature reserve co-ordinator for the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, said: “The engineers could not have been more co-operative in devising a plan of action to avoid damage to one of the most important locations in the county for scarce limestone flora.

“The wildlife trust is most grateful to Openreach for their notification of the work to be done and for their help in safeguarding the site.

“The experience gives us confidence in working with BT if and when future similar occasions arise.”

Steve Henderson, BT’s regional director for next generation access, said: “BT is investing millions of pounds into the rollout of fibre broadband in Lincolnshire.

“Some things, like the local environment, are invaluable, so engineers from Openreach always work with care and consideration.

'Sound advice'

“We’re grateful to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust for working with us and providing sound advice. It’s also really good news for people living in Welby who can now access fibre broadband services.”

Onlincolnshire, the broadband partnership between Lincolnshire councils and BT, has now made superfast speeds available to more 125,000 premises.

Richard Davies, the executive member for IT at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “The Onlincolnshire project is dramatically improving broadband across the county.

“We’re now bringing faster broadband to more than 1,000 Lincolnshire homes and businesses a week, which is a fantastic achievement.”

He said residents can check whether they can access superfast broadband at the Onlincolnshire website.

“All people then need to do to enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband is contact their internet service provider and upgrade their package.”

According to BT, around 20,000 people in Lincolnshire have upgraded to fibre broadband since the start of the year.

Some of the latest areas to go live in the county include Hemswell, Marshchapel, North Thoresby and Torksey.

Picture courtesy of Simon Mortimer.

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