The company is advising households that they do not currently need to take any action as the final preparation and testing is carried out, but there is a small possibility of minor interruptions to TV services for some households while tests take place.
The TV antenna on the new mast uses the same channels and frequencies as the 80m temporary tower. The majority of viewers in the region are receiving signal from the temporary tower, so their TVs will notice no difference when the mast goes live and may not even need to retune.
A small number of households, fewer than 0.5% of the total serviced by the new mast, may not automatically benefit from the signals from the new mast when it is switched on.
Arqiva has written directly to these households – which received in-home support as part of Project Restore – to advise them they may be affected and what they need to do if they notice a change to services once the mast goes live.
Following go-live, if a household cannot receive channels 1 – 5, in at least standard definition, a retune or rescan is recommended. If this does not resolve the matter, the Project Restore website (bilsdalemast.co.uk) will be updated for advice and help.
A small number of households may lose HD services temporarily, however these channels will be available in standard definition and will return when additional antenna are installed on the mast.
The priority has been restoring TV services to the level they were before the fire, and work will continue on site to bring the full range of services, including radio, back.
Adrian Twyning, Chief of Operations at Arqiva, said: “Testing of the new mast will begin shortly and while that may cause a few minor interruptions in service there is no action to be taken at this time.
“We will announce the exact date of the switch on shortly and the bilsdalemast.co.uk website will offer help and advice for anyone who may need support to restore their TV services.”
Former quarry site of first temporary mast restored to nature
Environmental remediation work at the site of the first interim TV mast is now completed.
The moorland, on the location of a former quarry, close to the original Bilsdale Mast, was previously home to an 80-metre tall temporary transmitter, which reinstated TV signal to more than 90 per cent of affected households in the weeks following the fire.
The National Park Authority has signed off the moorland reinstatement work at the location, which sits within a site of special scientific interest, meaning that Arqiva, the owners and operators of Bilsdale Mast, has avoided major impacts to the heathland habitats and wildlife (birds, reptiles and amphibians) which make the area so important and sensitive. Arqiva will now undertake an ongoing program to monitor heather establishment and ensure the long-term environmental quality of the quarry site.
Arqiva worked closely with environmental experts and The National Park Authority to develop a strategy which enabled the temporary mast to be quickly built, while also complying with obligations to protect the unique environment of the North York Moors. The recovery strategy included re-seeding the iconic pink and purple heather using seeds collected as the site was carefully cleared to make way for the mast base and sourcing the correct type of stone to interact with the surroundings.
Paul Cook, Environment Consultant at Arqiva, said: “I am really pleased that our hard work and planning to protect the wildlife of the beautiful North York Moors throughout Project Restore has been recognised by the National Park Authority. This means that we can now hand back the land to its owners in full knowledge that we have had minimal impact on the flora and fauna here.
“With the switch-over of the new Bilsdale Mast quickly approaching, this marks a major landmark in Project Restore.”