The Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead says rural Scotland is seeing a new phenomenon of “digital refugees” as people leave remote areas in search of faster internet speeds.
On Wednesday, Richard Lochhead told Scottish Parliament that evidence is emerging of broadband-led rural depopulation amid concerns that nearly a fifth of homes in the Highlands and Islands will remain stuck on slower internet speeds.
Finance secretary John Swinney has pledged to ensure that 95 per cent of premises in Scotland have access to superfast broadband by 2018, but some regions will fall short without additional funding.
The Scottish government has pledged that 85 per cent of homes and businesses in the country should benefit from fibre broadband by 2015, rising to 95 per cent by the end of 2017 – the result of a £265 million deal with BT.
However, harder-to-reach areas like the Highlands and Islands region are only expected to gain around 84 per cent coverage by 2016, with further funding required before the final 16 per cent of premises benefit.
Photo Credit: Scottish Government