Church Commissioner Written Answers: wi-fi and broadband in Blackburn diocese

On 13th March 2018 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Sir Mark Hendrick MP about using church spires in the Blackburn diocese for wi-fi and broadband:

Sir Mark Hendrick(Preston): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Diocese of Blackburn has made of the potential merits of using its church spires for relaying Wi-Fi, broadband or other signals; and which churches in that Diocese could provide potential sites for such relays.

Dame Caroline Spelman: The Church of England recently signed an Accord with Her Majesty’s Government to enable churches to improve broadband and mobile connectivity, particularly in rural areas. The Accord sets out how the Government and the Church can collaborate to help achieve this. Companies are currently being invited to tender to provide connectivity under a framework agreement with rural parish churches. The intention of the Accord is to indicate to Church Chancellors and Local Planning Departments that there is no institutional barrier to this technology being used to promote connectivity in a manner appropriate for the community.

The Church of England is in the process setting up a working group with interested dioceses to identify areas where further work or guidance may be required to support the Accord. The Diocese of Blackburn is not currently part of the working group however, the Church would welcome any additional information from the Hon. Member for Preston about parishes in his constituency who may be interested in offering this facility to their community. Discussions are also ongoing with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to establish how to progress this project further.