THE construction of a new temporary mast at the Bilsdale site has officially began according to site operators Arqiva.

Arqiva say a team of around 100 people began construction work at Bilsdale yesterday with materials being transported into place and ground preparations began.

Teams are working to clear the site and put foundations in place for the ground-based transmission equipment.

According to chief executive of Arqiva, Paul Donovan, the new temporary mast will be constructed in 21 days.

Once finished and operational, the 80-metre mast is expected to provide Freeview TV signals to an area covering over 90 per cent of households ordinarily served by the damaged Bilsdale mast.

Arqiva say their priority is to now work with organisations across the affected area such as local councils, housing associations and charities to reach and support those still without signal following the building of the temporary mast.

According to the site operators, the clearance of the site includes excavating heather, which will then be re-seeded.

Stone used on the site has also been specially selected to ensure the right levels of acidity for the surrounding environment.

Adrian Twyning, chief of operations at Arqiva, said: “We are working 24/7 to restore services to as many people as possible across the North-East and North Yorkshire. This is complex work, involving multiple agencies and highly skilled teams. We are fully committed to the task at hand.”

The news comes after last week officially marked a month since the original Bilsdale transmitter went up in flames on August 10.

Many households have been without TV since the fire started and the BBC has offered refunds to those who have been without signal for a month and without on-demand services such as iPlayer.

In a recent update from the BBC on September 09, a spokesperson for the broadcasting company said: “We appreciate this is frustrating for those affected and are working with Arqiva to restore coverage as soon as possible.

“As mentioned previously, those who are unable to receive signal will be able to claim free licence extensions or a refund - dependent on their payment plan - from tomorrow."

Meanwhile that week, Mr Donovan issued an “unreserved apology” to those who had been affected by the disruption at Bilsdale Transmitter for a month.

Just before the weekend, Helen Hunter, chief executive of Age UK, announced that she had been in talks with Arqiva over how to address the elderly and vulnerable still without signal once the new mast had been complete.

She said: “Following a productive meeting with Paul Donovan from Arqiva we will be working with them to ensure older people get the information and support they need to access vital TV and radio services.”

Here’s how you can get a refund or extension to your TV Licence if you’re eligible:

  • Customers who are eligible will receive a free extension or refund – dependent on their payment plan – on their TV Licence equivalent to the time, in months, they have been unable to receive coverage
  • Customers will be able to request an extension to their licence through the TV Licensing website, or via calling TV Licensing call centre after 10th September on 0300 790 6144
  • The addresses of customers who request a free TV Licence extension will be cross referenced with the postcodes which have been impacted by the coverage outage.
  • In line with the refunds policy, we are unable to issue a partial refund for a time period of less than a month.