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Closure of Belach Na Ba
Highlands & Islands Regional MSP, Rhoda Grant (pictured) who has been involved in negotiations between the local Applecross community, businesses and SSE re the closure of the Bealach Na Ba, from 9th April for six weeks to allow for ducting works to take place in relation to the laying of fibre broadband to the MOD base at Sand Bay, provides locals with the latest update.
Rhoda Grant said:
“On 20th February 2018 I met representatives from SSE at the Scottish Parliament along with the Applecross Community Company Development Officer, to discuss not only the closing of the Bealach Na Ba for six weeks, but also querying if the community could have access to the fibre broadband being laid to Sand Bay.
“Due to an earlier intervention, I managed to persuade SSE to move the road closure from over the Easter weekend to the 9th April.
“However, we also asked about a night closure of the road and or a staged closure if work had to be carried out through the day.
Rhoda Grant continued:
“Our meeting with SSE was positive and the SEE representatives present undertook to investigate the possibility of the community having the fibre broadband access desired.
“SSE were clear that an additional cable was being laid in the hope that an Internet Service Provider would utilise it.
“We made the point that the Community Company was a service provider, albeit that it ran the service for social rather than commercial benefit and therefore would be unable to cross subsidies access.
“That would mean that the Community Company would not be able to pay a commercial price for access given their small number of users.
“Applecross has a population of only about 200.
“However, the benefits to the local economy and community would be massive especially since they rely so heavily on tourism to survive.
Rhoda Grant continued”
“We also took the opportunity to enquire about the local Community hydro scheme and an increased connection to the national grid.
“I was pleased that the representatives from SSE undertook to look into this issue as well.
“I am expecting a written response to all the questions raised in the next day or so.
Rhoda Grant continued:
“Due to the overwhelming concerns still coming to me from the local community in relation to the road closure, I again made contact with SSE to propose they look again at a night time closure, or even a staged closure through the day failing the night option.
“I also sought a community meeting between SSE and the community in the Applecross village hall.
“Today, I have learned from SSE that Ian Blackford MP has arranged for a stakeholder meeting to take place in the village hall on Thursday 29th March 2018 to further discuss all the surrounding issues.
“I reiterated to the SSE representative that the community were strongly in favour of the option to close this route during the night, but I was advised that on the basis of health and safety and logistics this was not possible.
“I made clear that it was important that a full community consultation take place before final decisions were made.”
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