WORK to erect a temporary transmitter after the fire at the Bilsdate mast on Tuesday is expected to take a fortnight.

Communications firm Arqiva said it has has 'some success'  during phase one of its recovery plan using the Eston Nab site to restore television and radio services for some areas.

However, Eston Nab is unable to reach all the areas served by the larger Bilsdale mast, as broadcast signals rely on line-of-sight between transmitter and receiver (rooftop aerials).

This is the reason why masts such as the one at Bilsdale need to be so tall, and why they are located where they are – to reach as many homes as possible.

A spokesman for Arqiva said: "The job of locating transmission equipment involves complex work to assess coverage areas, ensuring line of sight while avoiding interfering with other equipment and also the environment in which they are required.

The Northern Echo:

"The only way to truly replicate the service from Bilsdale is to erect something on the same site, which has been difficult given the nature of the incident.

"To date we have been unable to even access the existing mast to assess its condition."

The company explained that the second phase of their plan to restore signal is to erect an 80m temporary mast at Bilsdale.

Officials have been surveying the site to identify the best alternative locations for  this but they are working under restrictions.

The spokesman said: "Included in this is the fact that Bilsdale is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, meaning we have to seek agreement to place any additional equipment.

"There are many activities to this phase two; preparation of ground, access, erection of an 80m temporary mast which involves raising the mast itself, running power, bringing in high powered transmitters and feeders to the antenna and configuration and test.

"This part of our plan should reinstate TV coverage for the vast majority of viewers who receive signals directly from Bilsdale.

"Due to the work required to deliver this solution we expect that work to be complete within 14 days from now.

"We are sorry for the ongoing disruption but are committed to delivering a solution for our broadcast customers and you, their viewers and listeners, as fast as we can.

"We understand the frustrations of some of you that this process is not quicker, and we expect to be able to provide details next week of which areas should benefit from phase 2.

"But following this update we hope you can understand that broadcasting to the nation is complex and while these incidents are thankfully rare, 99.99 per cent of the time when you turn on your TV the picture will be there."

The fire broke out at the Bilsdale mast on Tuesday afternoon last week and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service sent multiple crews to deal with the blaze.

A cordon remains in place around the area.

The Bilsdale mast is primarily used for radio and television transmission and is among the most powerful in the UK.

The damage caused by the fire left hundreds of thousands of homes across the North-East and North Yorkshire without television and radio reception unless accessed via internet services.

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