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Fugro completes survey for BT's Scottish subsea cable project

Clive Downing - R100 scotland 16.9.jpg

Geo data company Fugro, has completed the offshore fieldwork phase for the subsea fibre project that will see 16 new cables connect Scotland.

Announced earlier this year by the Scottish Government and formed as part of the £600 million Reaching 100% (R100) project, 15 Scottish islands will receive 16 new subsea cables to be delivered by BT's Openreach and in partnership with Global Marine.

The R100 project is made up of three contracts with BT, the aforementioned LOT 1 (North Scotland and the Highlands), LOT 2 (Central Scotland) and LOT 3 (Southern Scotland). The first two lots are due to go into build phase in the summer 2022, with an RFS date of 2023, while LOT 3 is due to go live by 2024.

“Digital connectivity has proven to be vital throughout the pandemic and this is something that will make a huge difference to both residents and businesses as we continue to work, learn and access public services remotely," said Clive Downing (pictured), R100 programme director for the Scottish Government.

"Global Marine and Fugro have successfully mapped out the subsea routes through complex underwater and overhead surveys and this work is the first step in connecting islanders to faster broadband as part of the Scottish Government’s R100 programme for the North Lot contract area.”

Specifically the following remote communities will benefit from the new infrastructure, Colonsay, Iona and Lismore in Argyll and Bute; Eigg in the Highlands; Eday, Flotta, Hoy, Rousay, Sanday, Shapinsay and Stronsay in Orkney; Fair Isle, Unst, Whalsay and Yell in Shetland.

For the offshore fieldwork, Fugro leveraged its Rapid Airborne Multibeam Mapping System (RAMMS) solution to complete the airborne bathymetric data acquisition of the cable landing sites in nearshore areas traditionally too hazardous to access.

The resulting lidar data and imagery will be used to create a 3D model of the area to complete the cable route design and support mission planning. In addition, the company used three specialist survey vessels from its fleet to perform geophysical and geotechnical surveys of the nearshore and deep-water areas, including 31 landing sites across the remote island network.

“The subsea element of the R100 build is both complex and sensitive," said Robert Thorburn, partnership director for Scotland at Openreach.

"That’s why we’re so pleased to be working with industry specialists Fugro and Global Marine who are using innovation and technology – in the air and on land and sea – to gather the in-depth knowledge we need to design the full fibre network to more islands.”

The project also includes unidentified ordnance hazard surveys, sub-bottom data collection, and land-based sediment sampling.