Our first task was to undertake the planning submission-and-approval process and from the start, protecting this natural environment was at the forefront of our mind. The initial build phase demanded a huge level of coordination and logistics expertise. Specialist contractors had to be managed and deliveries and transportation scheduled and planned accordingly. Getting all supplies required to the site on time and in sequence required pinpoint accuracy and planning. The second element of the build phase focused on compliance with quality control and safety. Our dedicated in-house construction teams built a 1.2km access track across the side of Bellavaum to allow plant and materials access to the mast site at the summit. The mast foundation consisted of rock anchors drilled deep into the rock with reinforced concrete caps built on top of these anchors. The mast was then erected piece by piece and the mobile operators then installed and commissioned their upgraded network equipment. The next step was to cover the access track with the soil removed during its construction in order to minimise the visual impacts of the works.
The existing mast was built on the hill at Bellavaum on the island around 1990. It had served the community well but was at end-of-life stage and was no longer able to maintain the level of connectivity the island required, so a full mast replacement was needed. With a delicate natural environment in place, it was important to leave this beautiful landscape as it was found before works began. There were significant challenges, due to the remote location and the Atlantic weather conditions. It was also paramount that existing connectivity remained consistent for the local community at all stages of the mast replacement project. As the use of truck or cranes on the island was not feasible, there were limited options in terms of transportation to the mast site at the top of Bellavaum. Therefore, designing the mast foundation with the minimum amount of materials was crucial.
Working with such a delicate landscape was always going to be a challenge. We are happy that we overcame the logistical hurdles to provide better connectivity between this beautiful island and the world beyond. This enhanced connectivity will lead to greater scope for remote working through faster, more reliable broadband – driving more opportunities for commercial growth locally. For the community itself, thanks to their full engagement and co-operation throughout, they got the connectivity upgrade they required. The residents are even investigating the prospect of adding further value to the site location, through the addition of a telescope on the hill.