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What happened to the Bilsdale Mast?

The original mast was more than 300 metres tall and sat on the North York Moors. It served around 670,000 households in urban and rural areas across North Yorkshire, the Tees Valley and County Durham. Weighing around 500 tonnes, it was one of the tallest structures in the UK.

What Happened

On 10 August 2021, a fire was reported which caused serious damage, resulting in a loss of signal to much of the North East and North Yorkshire. The mast subsequently had to be demolished. Arqiva has been informed that its insurers have now concluded their investigations and whilst the precise findings have not been shared, Arqiva understands that the root cause of the fire has been attributed to water ingress to an electrical component connected to third-party equipment.

How we are helping

We are providing a range of help, support and advice, with a dedicated freephone number to call 0800 121 4828 and this website. Engineers have visited homes to repoint TV aerials, provide other fixes and we have offered vouchers to purchase TV streaming devices to some homes in the area. We are here to help.

The team involved

We’re continuing to bring together local authorities, charities and housing associations to help us identify households which remain without Freeview TV services so we can offer a range of solutions that will ensure no one is left without TV services. From the outset we prioritised people aged over 65, the clinically vulnerable and their carers, so we could target help to them first.

Current status

We have restored some Freeview TV services to around 99% of households across the region following the fire at Bilsdale Mast last August. We have used a combination of new and existing sites to deliver signals to the area, including a second, interim mast near the original site. Many new relay sites are now in place across the region. Work has begun on the full-size replacement mast, which at over 300m tall will be one of the UK’s tallest structures.

FAQs

From why a temporary mast is needed, to how to retune your tv, we've already got lots of answers to the most common questions below.

Terrestrial television signals rely on line of sight, so because this mast is shorter than the original, it can’t reach the same amount of areas. You can watch a short video about it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbhgFMbq0oY.

On February 18 2022 planning permission was granted for the building of the new permanent replacement mast at Bilsdale. The new mast will be more than 300 metres tall, and will involve teams of more than 100 workers.

The construction of a new Bilsdale Mast in North Yorkshire, which will become one of the UK’s tallest structures and is only a few metres smaller than The Shard in London, is a significant engineering challenge. The scale and complexity of the project in a remote and environmentally-sensitive location, using a bespoke design, along with the impact of the weather at the moor top site, mean the finish date for the project has to be an estimate.

A construction project of this scale and complexity might usually take 18-24 months, but Arqiva is working hard with others – for example, steel suppliers in the UK – to reduce that timescale in a safe and effective manner. It is hoped the new Bilsdale Mast will be in place by early autumn 2022 and will become operational between then and spring 2023. 

Broadcasting television and radio to millions of people is heavily dependent on line-of-sight communication – that’s why broadcast towers and masts are very tall or found on high ground. These transmitters require cable networks to power them. And installing, maintaining or replacing this equipment, especially at height, is very complicated.

Weather can also be a problem. High winds can make it too dangerous for people to work above certain heights. And wet weather can mean it’s not safe to carry out electrical work.

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