Legal issues hamper new Bilsdale mast plans after fire

Bilsdale transmitter before the fire. Photo: Martin Dawes/Wikipedia.

Engineers have run into legal issues which are hampering attempts to install a temporary mast at Bilsdale following the fire at the site.

Thousands of homes across North Yorkshire remain without TV and radio signal following the blaze at the transmitter on the North York Moors.

Engineers say the only way to truly replicate the service from Bilsdale is to erect something similar near to the original site, which has been difficult given the nature of the incident.

A temporary transmitter at the same site should reinstate TV coverage for the vast majority of households who normally receive signals directly from Bilsdale.

TV provider Freeview said the job of locating transmission equipment involved complex work to assess coverage areas, ensuring line of sight while avoiding interfering with other transmissions, and also taking into account the environment in which they are located.

The transmitter operating company, Arqiva, plans to erect a temporary transmitter at Bilsdale which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, meaning it has to seek agreement to do this.

A Freeview spokesperson said: “The plan had been to erect the temporary transmitter at a new site by the existing transmitter by 28th August.

“This date has now been delayed as the legal process to secure access to the site is taking longer than Arqiva had initially anticipated.

“Arqiva has informed the court that this is a serious and urgent situation. Meanwhile, Arqiva is trying to reach agreement with the landowner to speed up the process.

“We share viewers’ disappointment that the new temporary mast at Bilsdale has been delayed, particularly at such short notice. However, we have faith that Arqiva is doing everything in its power to reach a new access agreement with the landowner.”

Arqiva said it was doing everything in its power to restore broadcast services as quickly and safely as possible following the fire.

A spokesperson added: “The majority of homes affected, more than 400,000, have now had their TV services restored, and FM radio and Digital Radio have also returned to most households.

“Our teams are working round the clock, alongside our partners, to return services to normal for people across the area as quickly as possible.

“We fully recognise that, for those who remain affected, this is a frustrating time as services have not been restored as quickly as we had hoped. We apologise for that.

“The remaining stages of our plan require access to the original mast site to deliver materials, build and commission the temporary 80-metre mast which would expand TV services to the vast majority of households. The legal process to secure appropriate access to the site to build the temporary mast is taking longer than we initially anticipated and as a result it will not be operational by this weekend as we’d hoped.

“We are making representations to the court as to the severity and the urgency of the situation but we are in the hands of the judicial system currently.

“We continue to speak to the landowner to see if we can reach an access agreement whilst the application is being processed. We are doing everything we can to move this forward as quickly as possible and are seeking the assistance of everybody involved to accelerate the process.”

What you can do now if you are affected

Watching live TV through your aerial

If your TV is struggling to pick up any signal, please try an automatic retune, particularly if you live in and around Darlington, Barnard Castle, Richmond, Leyburn, Catterick, Masham and Ripon. Learn how to do this with our retune videos.

If you retune now, you will need to retune again when the Bilsdale temporary mast is erected. The retune we recommend you do now is a short-term measure designed to get as many homes viewing again as possible.

If doing an automatic retune does not restore any channels, unfortunately it is unlikely that you will be able to receive a signal until the new temporary Bilsdale transmitter is turned on.

For those viewers not comfortable with doing an automatic retune and who have not retuned at all since the fire, the plan to restart transmitting from Bilsdale involves channels returning without the need for an automatic retune.

Watching live and on-demand TV through the internet

You can continue to watch Freeview live and on-demand on many Freeview Play TVs, or one that has channel players available to view (such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 or My5).

Alternatively, you can watch Freeview via our mobile app which is available to download for free from your app store or on a web browser via our online TV Guide.

See more on these options in our article on how to watch Freeview online.


  1. What about who are on the lkes of BT`s YOUVIEW and the people who don`t have SKY,VIRGIN and other such like providers and people who can`t retune their Tv`s some poeple have payed Areial installers to move their TV areials to Pontop pike
    transmitter.Why cant they just let the engineers get with their job of restoring the transmissions and you will have a happy public, many pensioners are without TV in places like care homes in Richmond but the people concerned won`t pay to get the areials retuned i pressume.

    • How many of the 600,000 left without tv on teesside will support you? Answer is a big fat zero. Let’s hope the Green Party and the environmentalists go down the drain where they belong.

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