As far as the Lairg area was concerned, Shinness was the major population centre not benefiting from
the current rollout of FTTC covering an approximate 2km radius of Lairg itself.
CBS had recently brought forward their plans to cover the remaining rural parts of the Highlands to
2017. Charles was given a copy of the project procedure, and Magda explained that the project was
now at the first stage of scoping. As part of this process, the area had already been sent
questionnaires in May 2016, a blank example of which was given to Charles, and that some replies had
been received from Shinness. Charles expressed surprise that he hadn't received one, but it
transpired that an out of date voting register had been used, which wouldn't've shown his name.
It was agreed that, while respecting the data privacy of the respondents, at least 'aggregate' or
summary information from the Shinness replies would be made available to Charles, more if respondents
Magda expressed regret that she hadn't known about Charles' efforts to find a solution to Shinness'
particular concerns earlier, and the hope that the two projects could come together and work more
effectively than either on its own.
On behalf of Shinness, Charles explained that:
His planned next step had been to leaflet a questionnaire to Shinness residents asking for the sort of
information that had already been obtained from CBS's earlier questionnaire, but that he would put that
on hold until he had received the summary information from the earlier questionnaire and considered
whether the information obtained was sufficient to work with.
He suggested possible sources of funding for such projects and each was briefly discussed:
Magda explained that the funding terms under which Community Broadband Scotland works
require that at least 11% of capital funding (capital infrastructure costs) must come
from non-public sources. Therefore Highland Council can not be included.
Magda explained that as above they would be funding up to 89% of their project, but as the
local area already received funding from local wind farms it may be somewhat less.
Local Wind Farms:
Magda explained that existing wind farms were already supporting their local communities
well, and may well be willing to contribute to improving broadband. She did not know
the current status of the Dalchork / Strath Tirry wind farm proposed by Reg
Magda explained that negotiations between the local community and SSE over the proposed
power transmission line upgrades were delicate, and that she didn't think it wise to risk
an intervention at this time.
Magda explained that while there were some supportive local businesses, funding from this
source was likely to be limited.
He asked what Magda advised Shinness to do next. He had been considering whether the community
would have to form some sort of legal entity to obtain quotes and funding, and whether to contact
suppliers in an effort to obtain some ball-park costs. Magda replied that HIE would give better
guidance than her on the former, while the latter would probably be best left until Stage 2 of the
wider Lairg rural project process.
Magda also invited Charles to be the community lead for the entire Lairg area, and Charles replied that he
would consider it, but would like written details from Magda as to what the 'job description' and similar
responsibilities of the role would be.
It was agreed that:
For Shinness to 'go it alone' would likely duplicate work and create other unnecessary difficulties for
Magda would attempt to arrange a further meeting with Sarah Marshall of CBS/HIE before the latter went
away for a month's leave. (Note: This did not prove possible, so instead was replaced by a
telephone conversation between Charles & Sarah on 20/12/2016).
Charles would explain the wider picture to the residents of Shinness.