Hawick MSP John Lamont has thrown his weight behind calls for a change in planning rules in order to boost mobile phone coverage.
The Tory member is backing a plea from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which is urging Scottish Government ministers to follow through on suggestions to remove some planning requirements for telecommunications developments.
This would make it easier to install digital infrastructure, and could help boost the mobile signal in areas that are currently poorly served, such as the Borders. Current figures suggest that between 39% and 59 per cent of the Borders does not currently receive 3G mobile signal, with nearly a quarter of the region not even receiving any 2G signal either.
Mr Lamont told the Hawick News: “The lack of mobile signal has been a longstanding problem in the Borders, and one that still has not been effectively dealt with. Huge areas of the region still do not have access to a 3G signal, with around a quarter of areas still not having access to even a 2G signal.
“This is not only proving to be a huge inconvenience for local residents, but it is also adversely harming our local economy. In this day and age it is becoming ever more important for our businesses to have access to a strong and reliable mobile signal, but in the Borders we risk getting left behind.”
He added: “We must do everything in our power to improve the current situation, and a change in the current planning laws could help achieve this. By making it easier to site equipment needed for a better digital infrastructure we could go a long way towards extending 2G and 3G signals across the Borders.
“As long as any signal masts were placed responsibly and when there were no local objections, I cannot see why we should not move ahead with this suggestion. Our businesses are crying out for better mobile connectivity and this is an effective way of providing them with it.”