Providing a reliable and sustainable digital and utility infrastructure is essential to our economic potential, as well as being critical to the growth of sustainable communities.
Businesses told us that a key barrier to growth is access to consistent, high speed, digital technology. Greater Lincolnshire has delivered the broadband coverage levels through the successful OnLincolnshire project.
Onlincolnshire has estimated that approximately 93% of premises can now access Superfast Broadband with an expectation that it will rise to 97% by December 2019. Onlincolnshire has been working closely with BDUK and BT in an effort to promote a number of schemes that will help end users obtain faster broadband and these include the Gigabit Voucher Scheme where businesses can apply for a grant to obtain fibre optics to business premises. Associated with this grant is an opportunity for up to 10 adjacent residential premises to each receive a grant for £500 to provide fibre over small communities. This scheme is expanding and Onlincolnshire is contacting rural communities to detail how the scheme can be accessed.
Additionally, Onlincolnshire are working with BT to promote community fibre partnership schemes where communities can contribute to further upgrading their community which is then match funded by BT. Going forward, Onlincolnshire are working with a local fixed wireless broadband provider to explore the use of street furniture to extend the reach of this technology. In 2019, Onlincolnshire will also embark upon a third contract to find solutions to plug all remaining access gaps.
Onlincolnshire is also exploring an allocation of a recently announced £200M fund to promote rural broadband.
Working with the various energy industries to ensure investment is made for the necessary infrastructure to unlock development in the right places, is also of critical importance.
It is widely recognised that, in addition to employment, transport and other economic factors, the cost of providing adequate utility services is a major cost consideration in planning employment and housing developments.
The geography of our LEP area, and the rurality of some development sites, can mean that the current provision of roads, water, sewerage, energy services and telecommunications may be insufficient to accommodate the level of growth required.
The provision of affordable and suitable employment and housing developments is dependent on the provision of sustainable infrastructure services including; roads, water, sewerage, energy services and telecommunications. It is recognised that rural growth is being constrained by a lack of grid capacity with SMART grid technology offering solutions and opportunities across Greater Lincolnshire.
Availability of these services is critical to the growth of fully sustainable communities. Greater Lincolnshire is therefore committed to taking a stronger role in dialogue with utility providers to make a better case for investment, creating innovative approaches to accessing finance to unlock stalled developments and ensuring a reliable utilities infrastructure to support growth.
We are currently focusing a high priority on water infrastructure, which represents a major opportunity in Greater Lincolnshire.
- 93% of premises can now access Superfast Broadband with an expectation that it will rise to 97% by the end of 2019
- The University of Lincoln is developing a SMART grid programme for Lincolnshire with the LEP, to include rural smart grids.
- The LEP has published a Utilities Study and draft Energy Strategy.
- The first Utilities Summit is planned for 2019 in Greater Lincolnshire