MOBILE phone owners and users on Exmoor are set to benefit after improved mobile coverage was announced for England’s National Parks.

Environment minister Lord de Mauley, said: “Our National Parks are living, working places worth more than £4bn to our economy - it is essential businesses and homes there have access to 21st century communications.

“This spirit of cooperation is exactly what is needed to bring modern technology to remote areas so we can close the digital divide and help grow our rural economy.

“The Government takes this issue extremely seriously - we are funding the £150 million Mobile Infrastructure Project to deal with mobile ‘notspots’ across the UK, just one aspect of our long term economic plan.”

The announcement comes following a landmark agreement between National Parks England and the Mobile Operators Association which aims to help communities living in National Parks benefit from quality connectivity while protecting the Parks and minimising any adverse environmental impacts.

Exmoor’s National Park officer, Dr Nigel Stone added: “National Park Authorities have developed good working relationships with the installers of mobile phone networks where close working has enabled areas to receive good coverage without detriment to some of England’s most sensitive landscapes.

“Increasingly, the cost of deployment and operation of new mobile phone masts has been the most significant barrier to wider coverage as we have worked together to enable careful siting and design of new installations.

“We welcome interest from mobile operators in extending their networks to the benefit of local communities and visitors to National Parks.