Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Broadband and Digital Communications, visited Mortehoe where the community has brought together multiple stakeholders to upgrade its broadband and improve the visual environment.
The project was started 3 years ago by members of the community working with the AONB to install fibre to the premise (FTTP) broadband and take down the old telegraph poles to improve the views.
Allan Green, who has driven this project along with Stuart Thornborough explains how this was more difficult than it first appeared:
“It was not easy and we were faced with lots of challenges, but it’s going to be well worth the effort when we see the removal of 30+ poles, over 650m of overhead power cables and thousands of metres of copper telecom cables, and when super-fast broadband (FTTP) is installed to 242 properties - benefitting both residents and business owners no end. New dark-sky-friendly street lights are being installed on Chapel Hill and all this work is going to make a dramatic improvement to this beautiful coastal area, and with everyone coming together we’ve minimised disruption and road closures as best we can.”
A breakthrough came when Allan contacted Selaine Saxby MP to reach out to Openreach to help drive this project.
Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon said:
“Having worked with Openreach previously where they helped get schools in North Devon connected during the pandemic and also undertook a very complicated project I pressed for in Lynton and Lynmouth, I am sure of one thing, Openreach like a challenge and the engineers on the ground love getting out to the glorious North Devon countryside and coast. This was not an easy project and credit goes to Allan and Stuart who have driven this from the start, but this project also shows that when you have the right people in the room and talking, you really can get things done.”
The project involves moving Openreach and National Grid Electricity Distribution cables underground and bringing down most of the old telegraph poles. It required a lot of work from both parties with support from the North Devon AONB and Devon County Council, who as part of the project also provided new low level dark skies compliant lighting to be installed.
Alex Fernyhough from National Grid Electricity Distribution said:
“It was great to work on a project where everyone’s goals were aligned, with all the stakeholders pulling in the same direction it allowed for minimal disruption for the local community and maximum efficiency in planning and delivering a project that not only improves the visual amenity for the Heritage Coast and AONB but brings a robust underground system to an area that is exposed to the worst of the weather and provides an excellent broadband solution for the residents.”
Jenny Carey-Wood from the North Devon AONB said:
“Dave Edgcombe from the AONB team worked alongside Allan to bring in funding from the National Grid ‘Undergrounding Powerlines in Protected Landscapes’ scheme, to remove poles and lines to enhance the outstanding landscape in and around Mortehoe.”
Neil Otton from Openreach said:
“Tremendous to see the progress made, and the teamwork between different utilities all coming together.”
Allan Green & Stuart Thornborough added:
“It’s been a great team effort, and we would like to thank A&B Contractors Ltd, National Grid, Openreach & DCC Street lights for working all together helping and supporting each other to make this project happen. The huge support from all the residents and property owners has been amazing and we couldn’t have done this without them all supporting the project. Thanks also go to Mortehoe Parish Council & Devon County Council for their support.
“I want to thank everyone involved who helped make this happen. The project just kept getting bigger and more complicated, but I hope that other communities will use what we have done in Mortehoe as a blueprint as to what can be done if you work together and get the right people in the room talking.”