At the beginning of 2023 we expanded our ‘off the ground’ service offering to telecom tower maintenance and fall arrest systems. In early 2023 our climbing teams attained MATS (Mast and Tower Safety) certification and EUSR registration, followed by MSA Latchways Fall Arrest Installers and Assessors accreditation in the summer.

The Scottish Government embarked upon a project to improve rural communities known as the Scottish 4G Infill (S4GI) programme to help people across the country, from the Shetland Islands to the Borders, get online. Mobile network operator EE is providing 4G services across all bar one of the new sites, including the new Bogton mast, but all sites are capable of supporting multiple operators in the future.

S4GI is delivered in partnership with WHP Telecoms Ltd and the Scottish Futures Trust. Cellnex UK has now taken over the responsibility for ongoing tower maintenance and STC (Safe to Climb) inspections of the S4GI tower network. Cellnex went out to tender for this work to be carried out over a 3-year contract, which we successfully secured in November.

Some of the locations are so remote, site access can only be achieved by tracked all-terrain vehicle. We had an ageing Scot Track 8 x 8, but we felt it may be a trip too far for it. So, we brought in an Argocat Avenger 750 HDI 8 x 8, which has so far proven to be a good investment for locations such as Bruray – one of the Out Skerries islands of Shetland, and probably the most northerly site in the S4GI network.

On the map, it looks almost too small to be inhabited, yet around 35 people live on these two square miles (4km²) of rock and pasture. In Old Norse the name means ‘the eastern islets’, and indeed the Bound Skerry Lighthouse is only 164 nautical miles (320km) from the nearest light in Norway.

Another interesting S4GI site we deal with sits on Foula. This remote island lying 20 miles west of the Shetland mainland covers five square miles and has five distinctive peaks, including one of the highest sheer sea cliffs in Britain – Da Kame (1,233ft). Foula is said to be ‘on the edge of the world’.