Residents in North Devon and Torridge are set to benefit from a programme which will give more communities access to high-speed internet.

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) has launched its Fibre Extension Programme, which will provide more than 8,000 homes and businesses with fibre broadband connections by the end of 2021.

Connections for 6,000 of those homes will be delivered by Airband, which is starting engineering work in North Devon this month.

High levels of take-up of broadband in the region delivered by Openreach means CDS has been able to reinvest a £6million dividend so it can extend its fibre coverage to another 2,000 homes, thanks to the Government’s Gainshare agreement.

Communities in North Devon and Torridge set to benefit from the roll-out which starts this month include Ilfracombe; Croyde and Georgeham; Gunn; Molland and East Anstey; Bideford; Abbotsham; Hartland; Putford; Holsworthy and Clawton.

Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox said: “The Fibre Extension Programme is hugely welcome news for my constituents in Torridge and West Devon, with more than three thousand additional homes and businesses in areas like Bideford, Abbotsham, Holsworthy, Lewtrenchard and Chillaton due to be connected to full-fibre broadband by the end of 2021.

“Improving rural broadband will increase productivity, boost economic growth and raise living standards, and I am committed to ensuring that all my constituents have access to a decent, affordable and reliable broadband connection.”

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby said: “I am delighted at this development in Airband’s delivery in the North Devon region and the significant benefits it will bring to businesses and residents.

“Since my election, broadband has been one of the issues I have particularly championed. This is a clear demonstration of how North Devon and the wider CDS region are genuine pathfinders for the Government’s full-fibre strategy.”

“North Devon will see significant benefits as a result of the Gigabit Voucher scheme and alongside the work that Openreach have been doing in Lynton and Lynmouth, Barnstaple and Kings Nympton we are starting to see some real progress.”

Additional communities set to benefit from new fibre connections delivered by Openreach for CDS will follow over the next two years.

David Ralph, chief executive of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I am very pleased to see £2.16million of our Growth Deal and Growing Places funding supporting enhanced connectivity at such a critical time for businesses and residents.

“This support is fundamental to enabling businesses in North Devon, Torridge and West Devon recover and grow from Covid-19 by providing ultrafast broadband where the commercial market has so far failed to reach.

“We’re delighted to welcome this latest expansion of CDS fibre coverage.”