A NEW permanent television mast to replace one destroyed by fire in August last year is set to be in operation in 2023.

Site bosses of the Bilsdale mast, on the North York Moors, say the new structure will be just a few metres smaller than The Shard in London.

However, they also confirmed that many people will be without signal for a time after an interim mast is switched on.

Arqiva, which operates the Bilsdale mast, today set out the next phase of its engineering programme to restore TV services.

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The switch on of a second, “ more resilient,” interim mast will take place next month. The infrastructure company said this will bring improved signals for more than 100,000 households and will be more reliable in bad weather.

However, according to Arqiva, the location of this interim mast means that about 1,250 households will lose signal during what bosses are calling a “signal shadow”.

The majority of the homes to be affected will largely be along a strip of the County Durham coast, where the line of sight of the mast will be interrupted.

Site bosses also suggested that some areas of Hartlepool – such as Hartlepool headland – may be affected.

Arqiva are set to provide engineers free of charge to help re-point aerials on homes meaning many people can continue to receive a TV signal from another Arqiva-operated mast at Pontop Pike.

Initially, concerns were raised as to number of engineers available to meet the needs of about 1,250, but Arqiva’s chief commercial director Shujan Khan, assured that Arqiva had the “engineering capacity” to meet the task.

He said: “As mentioned before, we have the engineering capacity. We are currently on next day visits at the moment and based on our estimates we feel pretty confident to deal with that.

“We do want to encourage people to contact the phoneline to book an appointment if they need their aerial re-pointed.

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“We are now at the point where we have addressed all the backlog pre-Christmas and we are now into next day service, being able to address people’s issues on the next day as soon as they call in.”

Speaking on the interim structure, Mr Kahn added: “We need to make sure we have a strong enough structure that will withstand any issues that we might have in terms of weather, particularly around snow and ice.

“We also want to improve signal and we will now be going to mains power. The other temporary masts were working on generators, but working from mains power means we are much more resilient.”

Arqiva confirmed it had sent letters to households that may be affected by the switch on of the interim mast and encourage them to call 0800-121-4828 with any questions.

Speaking on the construction of the permanent mast, Arqiva said that this would be operational in early spring 2023 – but stressed this would be a “record time” for the size of the structure.

The infrastructure company added that the mast would be one of the “largest construction projects in this part of the world”.

The structure is set to be just a few metres shorter than The Shard in London.

Mr Kahn said: “The new mast will be around 303 metres tall and will be one of the largest construction projects in this part of the world.

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“It’s quite a substantial engineering project and it is a bespoke tower that we are building for the circumstances given the terrain we are dealing with – but also the specific conditions as well.

Arqiva say it is working with local suppliers for steel and materials in a hope to have a positive impact on employment and local business.

Mr Khan confirmed to The Northern Echo that there would be no more interim or temporary masts put in place in Bilsdale before the permanent mast is erected.

Figures provided by Arqiva suggested nearly 17,800 people had contacted their call line and more than 3,750 homes had been visited by engineers and over 167,000 visits to the Bilsdale mast website.