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Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, has welcomed the news that the Government's Growth and Infrastructure Bill will be instrumental in removing the sort of red tape which currently hampers superfast broadband from being rolled out to local homes and businesses in Cumbria, and indeed will help to bridge the rural ‘digital divide’ across Britain. He welcomes in particular amendments to the Communications Code - relating to electronic communications equipment - which will relax restrictions on the development of new overhead lines and broadband cabinets, applauding also the Secretary of State's announcement that Government is committed to working more closely with mobile operators, local government and other interested parties to consider ways in which the planning process might be streamlined to speed up the deployment of mobile infrastructure.
He said: "The Bill as a whole shows the bold measures we're taking as a Government to promote growth in our economy, and should be a welcome piece of news to Cumbrian residents and businesses in terms of the strong action we are taking on cutting away red tape, especially in areas that impact directly on broadband provision such as in planning and communications legislation."
"This Government has approached the provision of broadband as an asolutely vital development project, and is not shying away from removing obstacles to deliver better infrastructure more effectively. The real cost of broadband is in laying infrastructure: whilst the private sector have concentrated on cities to date - where broadband companies have to lay less fibre, and where mobile phone companies have more people to cover the cost of each mast - we have shown, right here in Penrith and the Border with projects like Fell End - that rural business cases can be affordable and do-able. This is why we are leading the way and holding government to account, forcing it to deliver on actions that will get us superfast broadband access more quickly."
The wide-ranging measures of the Bill also include unlocking thousands of new jobs and billions of new investment in energy projects, including £160 million in new gas market infrastructure, helping keep the country’s lights on by allowing existing consent to be varied; removing ambiguity from the Gas Act, which has prevented Ofgem from launching an innovation competition that could attract £160 million of additional investment into the gas network making it more efficient and cost-effective; reforms to the forthcoming Energy Bill, which will unlock £110 billion of new investment and will help to keep consumers' bills down and meet climate change targets whilst supporting jobs, investment and sustainable growth; and getting stalled housing sites built, by allowing the reconsideration of economically unrealistic ‘Section 106’ agreements, whilst guaranteeing existing affordable housing commitments.
The Prime Minister David Cameron said last week: "The Bill we are publishing today is all about helping our country compete in the global race and building an aspiration nation where we back those who want to get on life. We are slashing unnecessary bureaucracy, giving business the confidence to invest, unlocking big infrastructure projects and supporting hardworking people to realise their dreams. Already the changes we are making to the planning system are having an impact, with Land Securities giving the go-ahead to a major multi-million pound investment, supporting thousands of jobs in our construction industry. No one should be in any doubt about our determination to make sure Britain, and the British people, rise in the 21st century."