Killington households to take part in broadband internet access improvement trial

November 20, 2012 | Armistead News

Households in and around Killington are set to take part in a month-long trial designed to identify how broadband internet access can be enhanced across the area if plans for a nearby new wind farm are approved. 

Around 20 homes will be equipped with a new 3G-based broadband system as part of renewable energy firm Banks Renewables’ investigations into how revenues from the proposed Killington wind farm could lead to the implementation of a much faster, and potentially free broadband service for the surrounding area.

Improving the broadband service was the main priority raised by local people when the company asked them how they might want to allocate the community benefits fund that would be generated by the wind farm.

After discussing the options in a number of community meetings, Banks presented their outline ideas for tackling this issue at two public exhibitions held in September, and has now instigated this trial, which will begin within the next few weeks to help identify how a practical, scalable solution might be put in place across the wider area. 

The broadband improvement project, and a parallel scheme looking at addressing fuel poverty in the area have been put forward as examples of how the Killington community benefits fund, which will amount to around £675,000 over the 25-year lifespan of the scheme, might be used to secure a positive, long-term local legacy for the area from the wind farm. 

Banks staff have brought together all the parish broadband champions from the surrounding area to form a local broadband steering group, and their involvement will ensure that the final broadband solution both meets the needs of local people and delivers maximum benefit to the local community.

Killington resident Andy Newbold, who runs agricultural events and support businesses from his home in the village, is one of the people taking part in the project, and believes improvements to broadband access in the area is greatly needed for many different reasons. 

He says: “The distance from the nearest BT exchange and the type of infrastructure that we currently have in place means that homes in the village only get an average broadband speed of around 500 kilobits per second, which is way below what you would routinely find pretty much everywhere else in the area, and which can have a severe impact on things like downloading data, watching catch-up TV online or using video-conferencing systems like Skype. 

“From a work point of view, this limited capacity means we have to be very aware of the number of emails we’re sending and the size of the attachments that we’re adding to them, which can obviously have a limiting effect on how quickly we’re able to get things done. 

“Slow broadband speeds have a hidden impact on rural communities like ours, where you have no choice but to make the best you can of what’s available, and I would hope that this trial will show how this problem might be addressed to everyone’s benefit in the near future.” 

Planned for land to the south of the A684 Sedbergh Road, adjacent to Junction 37 of the M6, the three-turbine Killington wind farm would produce enough renewable energy to meet the annual electricity consumption requirements of around 8,100 homes, and could prevent the release of around 14,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year which would otherwise be generated by production through non-renewable means. 

Up to 50 people could be working on site through the construction of the wind farm, and local businesses would also be able to tender for contracts worth around £4m relating to its different aspects of its development, from construction and security through to accommodation and catering. 

Part of the proposed wind farm site is owned by Killington Educational Foundation and Killington United Charities, and both organisations would also benefit directly from revenues generated by the new wind farm, if it is approved. 

Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, says: “Our aim is always to utilise the benefits funds linked to our schemes in ways which meet the priorities expressed by the local community, so we’re able to make a long-lasting positive difference to the area, and it’s an approach which reflects the Government’s desire to see benefits result for the communities in which wind farm are situated. 

“Killington’s location and geography causes obvious broadband access difficulties, and this leads to issues arising for everyone in our increasingly online world, from children looking for information for their school homework through to businesses that can’t compete as easily with other firms located in areas with faster broadband provision. 

“Improving this situation has been identified by local councillors and MPs as a real priority for the area, as well as by those who are directly affected by it.  We’re aiming to get a good general representation of how we might best address local connectivity issues, and.we think the solution that we’ll be testing potentially offers a way to bring a higher speed network to the area that would be heavily subsidised. 

“Improving broadband speeds is one of a range of benefits that the Killington wind farm would bring to the local area if it is approved, alongside new jobs, contract opportunities for local firms and other schemes supported by the benefits fund, and we’re encouraged by the levels of interest and support that have been expressed by local people for the whole package that we’re putting together around this project.” 

Anyone who would like any further information about the proposed Killington scheme should contact the Banks Renewables’ community engagement team on 0844 209 1515 or 0191 378 6100, or via killington@banksgroup.co.uk

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