Energy firm agrees to broadband studies after request by Caithness councillor
A WIND farm company will investigate the possibility of enhancing high-speed broadband services for hundreds of residents in the far north following a request from a Caithness councillor.
An approach from Councillor Karl Rosie led to Statkraft agreeing to conduct feasibility studies into providing improved broadband using technology at existing and proposed wind farms.
Statkraft, the largest renewable energy generator in Europe, has already funded a study that showed at least 242 homes near its proposed Ackron Wind Farm, near Melvich, could receive an improved broadband service if wireless technology was built into the site’s infrastructure.
It is expected this would have the capability of providing superfast internet for anyone living within line of sight up to 10km from of one of the network repeater masts.
The company has committed to commissioning similar studies at all its future wind farm sites in Scotland.
After Councillor Rosie urged Statkraft to go further, the company has now confirmed that feasibility studies will be carried out not only at the proposed Slickly Wind Farm, some 8km south-west of John O’Groats, but also at the existing Baillie Wind Farm, west of Thurso.
Councillor Rosie said the move could augment the current roll-out of high-speed broadband in the Highlands and has the potential to ensure greater numbers of domestic and business customers receive an improved service.
He will now chair a local broadband consultation group, made up of residents and businesses, to find ways to take the idea forward.
He said: “We have to look at all methods of delivering the benefits of high-speed broadband for local people and businesses. I therefore asked Statkraft to go beyond its commitment on feasibility studies and include the existing Baillie Wind Farm, as well as proposed future sites, in its investigations.
“I am delighted the company has agreed and I am committed to maximising the potential of this opportunity.”
Alison Hood, Statkraft UK’s communications manager, said: “We are always happy to respond positively to ideas aimed at benefiting the community and have now commissioned a Highland-based company to carry out the studies. Using technology at wind farm sites could be an extremely effective way of enhancing broadband provision.”
Councillor Rosie represents Thurso and Northwest Caithness on Highland Council and is the SNP candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross at next month's general election.