To the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Government's target that at least 85 per cent of UK premises will have access to gigabit-capable broadband by 2025, what steps his Department is taking to help support farmers and growers who do not have access to gigabit-capable broadband; and if he will take steps with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that that access is made available to all farmers and growers in advance of that 2025 deadline.
Under the £5 billion Project Gigabit Programme we are working with industry to target a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025 but will seek to accelerate rollout further to get as close to 100% as possible. We remain committed to investing £5 billion in bringing gigabit coverage to the hardest to reach areas and will continue to work with suppliers to accelerate this investment.
On 19 March we announced the launch of the new gigabit broadband voucher scheme which will go live on 8 April 2021. We will work closely with agricultural organisations, including the National Farmers Union, to promote the scheme with their members.
The call for evidence on improving connectivity for very hard to reach premises, also launched on 19 March, will help government explore all possible options for improving broadband connectivity in remote and very hard to reach areas of the UK. In particular, it references the need for, benefits of, and barriers to, improved broadband for agricultural businesses including both farming and horticulture.