Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has welcomed confirmation of Scottish Government support for plans to incorporate fibre into subsea cabling due to take place in the islands.
A consultation is currently under way into the possible replacement of underwater power cables serving the north isles in Orkney. Following correspondence with Mr McArthur earlier this month, BT Scotland Director Brendan Dick said BT was “open to any opportunities to deliver what we need to for our customers”, while SHEPD Director of Customer Operations, Dale Cargill, confirmed “there is a possible opportunity and we [SHEPD] would be keen to explore this further.”
In response to a parliamentary question in the Chamber today, Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP stated that “Scottish Government officials have had preliminary discussions with SSE on this subject, with further talks planned in the coming weeks. I have asked to be kept updated on progress, and I hope that a positive conclusion can be reached.”
Commenting, Orkney’s MSP said:
“I am encouraged to hear that the Scottish Government is now actively engaged in discussions with SSE. Cabling work, both subsea and on land, offers an opportunity for fibre to be laid at the same time. This could help deliver the good quality, reliable and affordable broadband that businesses and households in our islands need.
“While the willingness is undoubtedly there to deliver this double benefit from the investment being made, I believe that it will only happen if Ministers see it as a priority. In light of that, I welcome Mr Wheelhouse’s response to my question today and look forward to seeing progress on this issue over the coming weeks and months”.
Notes to editors:
Due to a lack of time in the chamber, Mr McArthur’s question was not reached. A written response was therefore provided by the Minister’s office, a copy of which is below:
Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with SSE regarding the possibility of fibre being laid as part of planned work to upgrade sub-sea cabling in Orkney.
I recognise and welcome Mr McArthur’s sustained interest in this issue. Scottish Government officials have had preliminary discussions with SSE on this subject, with further talks planned in the coming weeks. I have asked to be kept updated on progress, and I hope that a positive conclusion can be reached and that any such opportunities are taken forward where possible.