Council seeks Argyll and Bute broadband boost

Better broadband and mobile phone coverage across Argyll and Bute is one of eleven key infrastructure projects to be put forward for inclusion in the Scottish Government’s national planning framework.

The projects, agreed by Argyll and Bute Council members at their latest meeting, also include the continued improvement of the A82/A85 trunk road between Oban and Glasgow and the A83 between Campbeltown and Glasgow, as well as the inclusion of the Machrihanish Green Energies Hub in Kintyre and the Cruachan Hydro Pump Storage expansion as Candidate National Development Sites.

The NPF sets the national framework for land use development planning in Scotland. This means the NPF has the potential to influence future Argyll and Bute Local Development Plans over the next 30 years, and how individual planning decisions are made.

Councillor Sandy Taylor, chair of the council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee, said: “These projects have been chosen by the council in consultation with its community partners as being the most likely to boost sustainable economic growth, improve our connectivity and reduce our carbon footprint in Argyll and Bute. The recommended projects will now be considered by Scottish ministers for inclusion in the next National Planning Framework.”

The council will have an opportunity to comment on the NPF 3 in March, when the Scottish Government publishes the Main Issues Report. The proposed framework will then be submitted to the Scottish Parliament for debate in September this year before being finalised in June 2014.

Each project put forward by the council has to make a significant contribution to Scotland’s sustainable economic growth, must be of regional significance and should make a significant contribution to one or more of the following: an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050; achieving the aims of the Zero Waste plan; renewable energy targets; skills development, reducing unemployment and job creation; strengthening Scotland’s links with the rest of the world; improving our digital, transport, utilities or green infrastructure networks; and improving the quality of the built or natural environment.

The full list of Argyll and Bute submissions is as follows:

Candidate national development sites - Cruachan Hydro Pump Storage Expansion; Machrihanish Green Energies Hub.

Strategic road improvements - A82/A85 Oban to Glasgow; A83 Campbeltown to Glasgow.

Strategic port and harbour enhancements - the Lorn Arc Project (an ambitious £20 million proposal to improve marine and road infrastructure in the Lorn area, covering Oban, Dunstaffanage, Dunbeg, North Connel and Barcaldine); green energies hub and service base for offshore renewable energy at Campbeltown and Machrihanish.

Strategic airport recognition and enhancements - Oban Airport (links to island airstrips and central belt), Campbeltown Airport (link to the central belt).

Strategic ferry links enhancements - Campbeltown to Troon and Ballycastle new vehicular link

Superfast broadband/comprehensive mobile phone coverage - Providing infrastructure to deliver next generation superfast broadband and mobile phone coverage to communities in Argyll and Bute.

New Electricity Grid Connections and Reinforcements - New connections and reinforcements to the existing transmission network to realise the growth potential in off-shore and on-shore renewable energy generation, in particular the Carradale to Hunterson sub-sea cable link and the Tiree to Dalmally sub-sea and buried cable link.