A Tory pledge to introduce superfast broadband across the country by 2017 lacks urgency, landowners have said.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said the Tories would use BBC licence fee money to fund a broadband roll out if they won the next General Election.

But, although the Country Land and Business Association welcomed the commitment, it added that the UK needed an “adequate and effective” broadband speed to every home much sooner than 2017.

“It is fundamental to the economic well-being of rural Britain that adequate and effective broadband is available to every home now,” CLA president William Worsley said.

“By 2017, many rural businesses will either have gone to the wall or relocated to areas where fast broadband speeds are available.

“First we need to get the basics right and provide a suitable broadband connection to the 20% of rural areas that have no access. This is the priority and requires immediate investment,” Mr Worsley said.

“The Conservatives’ suggestion of using funds from the licence fee is justified because content-rich communication from media organisations such as the BBC is driving the need for greater broadband speeds.

“However, this investment and the current plans for a 50p broadband levy on telephone lines will not provide anywhere near the resources needed,” he said.