Atlas: built by £10m public money, sold for £700,000

SCOTTISH Enterprise sold a £10 million telecoms network to Scottish & Southern Energy for just £700,000, it emerged yesterday.

Terms of the deal – announced in March – were not disclosed at the time because of "commercial sensitivities".

Scottish Enterprise said the sale, which came as a result of an "open, competitive bidding process", was ten years ahead of the originally anticipated timescale for the network to be sold off.

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In total, SE had invested 9.7m in the Atlas network since 2004, including 1.1m of European Regional Development funding. Scottish & Southern Energy Telecommunications (SSET), a division of the Perth-based utility giant, said it committed to investing a further 1m to complete the development and integration of the network.

A spokeswoman for SE said yesterday: "With the SSET deal, SE exited the project, saving on running costs, while ensuring that further investment is committed … but at no cost to SE or the taxpayer."

Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: "This looks like a remarkably poor return on a substantial investment of public money."

The controversial 55km Atlas broadband network spans six business parks in Aberdeen, Bellshill, Dundee, Dumfries, Glasgow and Edinburgh.