"By applying new ways of thinking that were innovative and sustainable, work was completed quickly and with minimum impact on the ecology of the area”
Bob Sturzaker, Wireless Networks Project Manager, Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions
The digital television switchover is the process of turning off the UK’s analogue and low-power digital terrestrial television transmitters and replacing them with a new high-power digital network covering 98.5% of the population. This entire project is being implemented by Arqiva between 2008 and 2012.
In 2008 Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions was awarded the multi-million pound contract for the design and construction of a new 191-metre mast at Tacolneston, Norfolk, along with the installation of digital main and reserve antenna systems. It was these larger new antenna systems that the existing mast was unable to support.
The project faced a number of environmental constraints as the new mast was located within a wooded area of the Arqiva site, meaning extensive tree clearance was required before works could commence. Due to the nature of this work, environmental consultants were employed to monitor the tree removal and to ensure that bats and other wildlife were not disrupted. To overcome this, bat boxes were fitted to trees and some tree trunks with woodpecker holes were re-planted upside down to provide a home for bats. In addition, felled trees were used to create ecological habitats to encourage wildlife.
The mast was erected using a travelling derrick, which carried each of the 32 panels in turn to the top of the mast along rails. This method allowed the installation of 2-3 panels per day, compared with 1-2 panels when using a traditional derrick.
The Tacolneston project has ensured that many thousands of homes in Norfolk and Suffolk will be able to receive the full benefits of digital television for years to come.
Key facts and figures
height of the mast
number of panels on the mast
weight of each individual panel