Mobile coverage solution found for rural community

The rural community of Ettrickbridge looks set to get mobile phone network coverage.

Plans to erect a 15-metre mobile phone mast at Hewat Horse Enclosure will bring 4G coverage to the area as part of the UK Government’s £150million mobile infrastructure project (MIP).

The feasibility of masts in four other areas in the Borders is also being investigated. A second mast proposal, in the Lilliesleaf area, is expected to be announced shortly.

Selkirk councillor and Ettrick Valley resident Vicky Davidson said: “We get no coverage for a 20-mile radius.

“The dominant issue is rural safety: if farmers are out on the hill and something happens, it could be hours, or more than hours, before they can get help.

“Now, subject to planning, Ettrickbridge will get a mobile phone mast. All being well, we should have it within the next few months.”

Councillor Stuart Bell, executive member for economic development, said: “I am pleased that we are now about to see the first planning application for a mast submitted.

“We have been working with local and national politicians from the UK and Scottish governments, and the respective companies and associations involved, to tackle mobile phone coverage in the area, in particular the five locations identified as part of the MIP where the funding is available to address these issues.”

A number of specific criteria have to be met for a mast to proceed, including power for the mast, landowner agreement and transmission to the wider network, which can be problematic in the Borders due to the topography of the areas involved.

However, Councillor Bell added: “Bringing mobile phone coverage to those areas in the Scottish Borders which do not have it currently is a priority for the council and our partners.”