Transmitter company Arqiva has submitted a planning application for a replacement mast at Bilsdale West Moor replacing the fire damaged mast that was demolished in October.
Nearly 1 million viewers in over 600,000 households across North Yorkshire, Teesside and parts of County Durham have been affected by the loss of service from Bilsdale.
Work on the new mast may take up to 19 months to complete. Planning documents handed to RXTV indicate plans to start work in March 2022, subject to planning permission being granted.
The total height of the proposed mast will be around six metres shorter, with a total height of 306 metres. The original 1960s mast was 312 metres high.
TV, radio, mobile and emergency telecommunications services have been disrupted since lunchtime on Tuesday 10th August 2021, when a fire destroyed equipment at the site and rendered the mast unstable.
The proposed replacement mast will also carry antenna for FM, DAB and emergency services.
Cellnex, working on behalf of mobile operators and providers of emergency telecommunications services, has commissioned a temporary tower to restore phone and data coverage to the area. At the same time, Arqiva are replacing their initial temporary mast with a more sturdy tower. The new temporary tower is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions on the moors over a longer period of time.
So far there have been no public objections to the replacement mast by local authorities and environmental organisations. A public consultation runs until 23rd January 2022.
Temporary transmitter sites
At the present time, many households are served by a temporary 80 metre mast at nearby Bilsdale Quarry. However, the mast is not high enough to cover the entire area. As a result, a number of temporary relay sites are now live in locations including Helmsby, Kirbymoorside, Leyburn and Masham. Existing relay sites, including Eston Nab near Middlesbrough have been enhanced to reach areas not covered by Bilsdale Quarry.
Arqiva is currently supporting local authorities and vulnerable viewers through its ‘Project Restore’ scheme. It has restored the main Freeview channels to just over 97% of affected households.
Most of the temporary sites only carry the main Freeview channels from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. Once a replacement mast at Bilsdale is ready to go live, more households will receive the full set of Freeview channels.