- Latest step in response to August fire
- Safety of on-site staff of primary importance
- Video footage to be available shortly
Arqiva, the company which owns and operates the Bilsdale mast, has confirmed that the 314m structure, which was damaged by a fire on the 10th August resulting in the loss of television and radio services in the area, was safely felled in a controlled demolition earlier today.
Following comprehensive investigations, the 500-tonne structure was considered beyond repair. As a result it was brought down by a specialist team using controlled detonations in order to preserve sections for the continuing forensic investigation into the cause of the fire.
The mast was built in 1969 and has provided TV and radio services to North Yorkshire, the Tees Valley and County Durham ever since.
The direction of dismantling was specifically chosen to minimise the impact on the surrounding environment. Arqiva will also ensure the moorland is restored fully, whilst also taking specific measures to minimise the impact of the clean-up activity.
As the damaged mast was deemed unsafe, an exclusion zone was set up in a two-kilometre circumference around it as part of the dismantling operation. Today’s dismantling work was not publicised in advance to ensure safety and minimise the risk to those involved in the dismantling.
A temporary, 80-metre tower close to the original mast is currently nearing completion which will restore TV services to more than 90% of households across the region. Arqiva is also setting up an online hub which will provide up-to-date information on help and support for priority groups affected by the loss of TV services, including how to retune or repoint your TV. It will be found at bilsdalemast.co.uk
Images and video from the demolition operation will be available later today from Recognition PR. This will include an interview with Keith Frost, Director of Operations at Arqiva.
Adrian Twyning, Chief of Operations at Arqiva, commented: “Safety is our number one priority and once we had clearance to fell the mast, and identified a suitable weather window, we acted quickly.
“The site is on remote moorland, and there is around 2km of perimeter that we have to secure before the mast could be brought down. This mast has been a part of the landscape in this area for decades, and we continue to work hard to restore TV services to those people affected by the fire.”
Notes to editors
The Bilsdale mast was the tenth tallest structure in the UK at 314m (1030ft) tall. (Arqiva operates nine out of the top ten).
The tubular structure weighed approximately 500 tonnes.
It provided Freeview TV, digital and analogue radio signals to the region, as well as mobile and some other ancillary services that require a broad reach.
Over 600,000 households were served by signals from the mast, however, it is worth noting that not all of these are solely reliant on Freeview for TV services (being able to access online services/players, the Freeview app, Freesat or subscription satellite or cable services).
Within 10 days of the fire we had returned some Freeview television signals to an area containing around 400,000 households. As of 08 September that number increased to over 500,000.
14 direct relays (15 in total) received a signal from Bilsdale and pass it on to smaller areas, they have all now been restored with feeds from other sites.
Radio services have also been largely restored.
We have worked around the clock to restore Freeview services for people, and many have been able to make use of alternative means of delivery such as smart TV players, Freesat, wifi-enabled dongles or their subscription cable or satellite services.
The difference between a mast and a tower is that a mast uses steel stays (akin to guy ropes on a tent) to remain upright whereas a tower is free-standing.
Arqiva is at the heart of the broadcast and utilities sectors in the UK and abroad, providing critical data, network and communications services.
We work in partnership with our customers – major broadcasters and utilities like the BBC, ITV, Sky, Global, Bauer, Thames Water and Anglian Water – to meet everyone’s demand for information, content and entertainment and enabling a switched-on world to flow.
We are the only supplier of national terrestrial television and radio broadcasting services in the UK, consistently delivering digital TV, analogue and digital radio to people in all four corners of the country. We distribute over 1,000 channels internationally using our fibre and satellite infrastructure. Our advanced, secure and dedicated networks are also supporting the management of critical data for a range of smart metering networksin the energy and water sectors.
For more information, news and insights from Arqiva, please visit the website at: www.arqiva.com