It’s been a long time coming but rural broadband project Fibre GarDen has finally been cleared for take off.
The Cumbrian project can now start connecting residents across the villages of Gardale and Dentdale to broadband speeds of 50Mbps and 100Mbps. Businesses in the area will be able to tap into 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) once the network is finished in August 2015.
After raising a portion of the money it needed to get going itself, Fibre GarDen secured more cash from the SIB Group before applying for cash from Government funds.
Now that Defra has approved £382,500 for Fibre GarDen’s use, the spades can finally start hitting the ground.
Chairman of Fibre GarDen, Andrew Fleck, said “We are absolutely delighted to have met all the requirements laid down by Defra. Their scrutiny has been relentless and this endorsement demonstrates their confidence in Fibre GarDen as a long term service provider for our communities. Along the way we have received enormous support and encouragement from our communities and YDNP [Yorkshire Dales National Park].”
Part of the Fibre GarDen will also supply facilities in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with fibre broadband. As part of the network will be built on the National Park’s land, both parties will benefit; Fibre GarDen can get on with creating their network and the Park will get a cutting edge connection to use once it’s done.
Originally Fibre GarDen has wanted to get the first few customers connected to fibre by Christmas 2013 but issues with the local council put the work on hold.
In order to ensure that the BT-backed Connecting Cumbria project didn’t overlap with Fibre GarDen, a prolonged ‘descoping’ exercise needed to take place.
As both project use taxpayer’s funds, strict EU State Aid rules stipulated that no two rural broadband projects could overlap.
Once the descoping had taken place, Fibre GarDen could then finalise its contract with Cheshire-based ITS Networks (UK) Limited who will be involved with the actual setting up of the network.
Roy Shelton, CEO, of ITS Networks (UK) Limited, said: “This is a massive step forward for rural broadband. This funding will mean that households and businesses in these hard to reach places will be able to benefit from broadband speeds that exceed many urban developments in the UK.
Local MP Tim Farron said Tim Farron MP said “This is brilliant news and a testament to the hard work and determination of the whole Fibre GarDen project. I have been proud to support and campaign with the team. Being able to deliver superfast broadband to Garsdale and Dentdale will make a massive difference to residents and businesses.”