McAlpine To Meet With SSE Heads Over Crichton Campus
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has set up a parliamentary meeting with senior representatives of Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) in a bid to bring an end to the long running saga of fibre broadband connectivity at The Crichton Estate near Dumfries.
As part of the Atlas Project, a broadband infrastructure scheme funded by the EU, faster fibre-optic technology was installed in every building on the Crichton Estate in 2005.
However, the fibre broadband was never connected. Atlas Connect Limited, a company that was setup and wholly owned by Scottish Enterprise to carry out the work was subsequently sold to SSE plc in 2010. In all that time, the fibre connection was never used by SSE despite the Crichton Trust asking for it to be set up.
Gwilym Gibbons, the CEO of Crichton Trust, has outlined the organisation’s ambition to turn Crichton into a ‘Gigabit campus’ as part of its continued development. The Trust believes that using the Estate’s fibre broadband connection is pivotal to Crichton’s ability to attract new business and investment.
Ms McAlpine, the South Scotland MSP, said:
“The Crichton Trust have big ambitions for the future of the Estate. They see fibre broadband as integral to their plans.
“SSE seem to have no interest in operating or maintaining a fibre broadband connection at the site. It has just sat dead since it was put in.
“This is a curious situation as it means they are leasing an asset from which they receive no benefit. Surely, the sensible thing to do would be to surrender the lease to the Crichton Trust and let them connect the Estate for the benefit of everyone.
“I am appealing to the benevolence of SSE. Give a little bonus to the community the campus serves. I hope that they will see that point of view at our meeting.”
The Crichton Estate constitutes an 85-acre parkland area which incorporates food, drink, leisure activities, business and an academic campus. The land is owned by Dumfries and Galloway council who leases it to the Crichton Trust – a not-for-profit organisation.
Four other sites around Scotland were connected under the Atlas Project and all of those sites were able to utilise their fibre connection after it was installed.
SSE currently owns the lease to the Estate’s fibre broadband cabinet but the company has refused to operate and maintain the line. This means that Crichton has been without fibre-optic connectivity as the network has lain dormant since it was installed back in 2005.
Ms McAlpine hopes that this meeting will lead to a satisfactory resolution for all parties and that Crichton can finally be ‘lit up’.
- The meeting will take place on Tuesday 30th October
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