Plans for a new mast that will restore TV coverage in North Yorkshire, County Durham and Teesside to how it was before August 2021 have been given the green light.
North York Moors National Park has approved plans by transmitter company Arqiva to build a 306 metre high mast on Bilsdale West Moor. It replaces the old mast that was destroyed in a fire on 10th August 2021.
Following an extended public consultation, the planning authority finally gave its approval on Friday 18th February. Arqiva welcomed the news.
The new mast will have a similar height to the old structure. Once built and live, it will be able to offer households across the region the full range of Freeview channels.
Work on the new structure will start shortly. But planning documents indicate it could take until late 2023 before the mast is ready to enter service. Arqiva has since indicated it will be working hard to ensure services are up and running before then.
Not quite permanent…
But the new structure is unlikely to be around for as long as its 50 year predecessor. The planning authority granted permission for a maximum of 30 years. Arqiva must also restore the site to its original moorland state if the site is given up earlier.
The timeframe reflects ongoing uncertainty of the future of digital terrestrial television in its current format. Many in the industry point to online or 5G-based TV distribution as the future for any remaining linear TV channels.
Adrian Twyning, Director of Operations at Arqiva, said:
“We’re very pleased that planning permission has been granted, and grateful to those who have worked so hard to make it happen. We have worked closely with the North York Moors National Park to provide and process a high amount of detailed information and assessment to be able to facilitate the permission being issued within a record time of 10 weeks. We extend thanks to all those involved in supporting us in the urgent need to replace broadcast coverage levels to the north of England.”
On Wednesday, a more sturdy temporary structure is due to go live next to the site of the new mast. Due to its restricted height, the temporary structure will not be able to service all affected households. This means viewers will continue to rely on either temporary relays or alternative main transmitter sites to continue accessing Freeview. This temporary structure is the grey tower at the bottom right of the diagram above.
The new 306 metre mast will also restore local FM and DAB radio coverage. It will also accommodate mobile phone antenna, restoring mobile coverage across remote parts of the North York Moors.
[Image: Diagram of the planned mast, submitted as part of Arqiva’s planning application to North York Moors National Park and subject to public consultation. Click on the image to see to the very top of the structure.]