New TV mast will be ready by ‘end of spring’ after Bilsdale fire, owner claims

Work on a new TV transmitter in North Yorkshire that will replace one destroyed by a fire should be completed by the end of spring, its owners said.

Arqiva said the new mast is almost finished, as the final piece of steel is about to be lifted into place on the 984ft structure and engineers can then install the broadcast equipment.

Around 670,000 homes in North Yorkshire and Teesside were cut off after the 1,000ft transmitter in Bilsdale went up in flames in August 2021.

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Arqiva said the 500-tonne mast was destroyed, after water got into equipment owned by another company and started a fire.

An aerial view of the Bilsdale TV mast.An aerial view of the Bilsdale TV mast.
An aerial view of the Bilsdale TV mast.

Adrian Twyning, Chief of Operations at Arqiva, said the new mast “is very near its full height”.

“Once complete, we need to install the antenna at the top and the feeders, which take the content up the tower to the antenna, then we will test the transmitters before we go live,” he said.

“The location of the site and the structure means that work’s heavily dependent on the conditions.”

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He added: “Under normal circumstances you wouldn’t choose to build a tall structure like this during the winter months, but we are committed to restoring services as soon as we can.”

The company said a temporary transmitter was put up in September 2021, before a "more resilient" temporary structure was erected in February 2022.

Temporary masts and relay stations have restored TV signals for around 99 per cent of the households that were affected, but hundreds are still cut off.

Last year, Ofcom said mast operator Arqiva “moved quickly to restore coverage” but there were delays in getting temporary transmitters up and running and many homes had no signal for “a prolonged period”.

Ofcom also said all companies which operate broadcasting infrastructure “need urgently to review their contingency plans”.