General Notice Of Proposal To Vary Wireless Telegraphy Act Licences

01 March 2021

In February and October last year, we issued two public consultations on our proposal to formally require licensees to comply with the internationally agreed levels in the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Guidelines for the protection of the general public from electromagnetic fields (EMF). We refer to these levels as the ICNIRP general public limits. In October, we also issued a Statement setting out our decision to formally require licensees to comply with the ICNIRP general public limits and we recently published an update on how we propose to implement that decision. We are now proposing to vary the terms and conditions of all licence classes identified below to implement our decision.

Before we vary licences, we are required by law to give notice of our proposal to vary licences. We are publishing this General Notice in accordance with paragraphs 6 and 7 of Schedule 1 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 and the terms and conditions of the licence classes identified below.

This General Notice gives notice that we propose to vary the terms and conditions of all licence classes identified below to include a new licence condition relating to EMF. The proposed EMF condition will require licensees to comply with the ICNIRP general public limits and keep records to demonstrate how they have complied.

The proposed EMF condition will only apply to licences that authorise equipment to transmit at power levels in excess of 10 Watts EIRP (or 6.1 Watts ERP). If the authorised transmit power specified in a licence is below this limit, the licensee will not need to take any action as a result of this variation. However, if a licence is varied in the future to authorise powers in excess of 10 Watts EIRP (or 6.1 Watts ERP), the licensee will need to comply with our proposed EMF condition.

If a licence currently authorises equipment to transmit at power levels in excess of 10 Watts EIRP (or 6.1 Watts ERP), there are a number of simple ways in which licensees can comply (advice on how to comply is set out in our detailed Guidance on EMF Compliance and Enforcement).

Summary of licence variation

The specific changes we are proposing to make to each licence class are set out in the“How we propose to vary licences”section below. In summary, our proposed EMF condition:

  • includes a new set of definitions relating to the EMF condition;
  • imposes a requirement on licensees to ensure their equipment complies with the ICNIRP general public limits on (i) sites not shared with other licensees; and (ii) where applicable, sites shared with other licensees (advice on how to comply is set out in our detailed Guidance on EMF Compliance and Enforcement);
  • sets out an exemption where licensees are not required to comply with the ICNIRP general public limits in emergency situations;
  • imposes a requirement to keep records demonstrating compliance with the ICNIRP general public limits; and
  • imposes a requirement to take into account Ofcom’s Guidance on EMF Compliance and Enforcement.

You can find more information on the background to Ofcom’s EMF policy.

In addition to the proposed EMF condition, for some licence classes, we are making some minor non-substantive amendments. These are restricted to administrative changes to update references to legislation and remove other out-of-date information.

Licences affected

This General Notice gives notice to all licensees holding one of the following licence classes that we are proposing to vary licences to include the new EMF condition.

This proposed change will also affect other licence classes. As per the terms and conditions of these other licences, we will contact the affected licensees directly to notify them of our proposal to vary.

How we propose to vary licences

For Amateur Radio licences, we are proposing to include the new EMF condition as a new Schedule in an updated version of the Amateur Radio Licence Terms & Conditions booklet. We have published draft Amateur Radio licence terms and conditions (PDF, 397.9 KB).

For Ships Radio licences, we are proposing to include the new EMF condition as a new Schedule in an updated version of the Ship Radio Licence Terms & Conditions booklet. We have published draft Ships Radio licence terms and conditions (PDF, 314.1 KB).

For Aircraft Radio Licences (Tiers A,B,C & Transportable), we are proposing to include the new EMF condition as a section in Schedule 1 of the licence. We have published draft Aircraft Radio (Tiers A,B,C & Transportable) licence terms and conditions (PDF, 256.9 KB).

For Aeronautical Ground Station Radio Licences, we are proposing to include the new EMF condition as a section in Schedule 1 of the licence. We have published draft Aeronautical Radio licence terms and conditions (PDF, 270.6 KB).

For broadcast licences, we are proposing to include the new EMF condition in the licence conditions.

For all other licences listed above (Business Radio, Fixed, Maritime and Satellite), we are proposing to include the new EMF condition as a new section in an updated version of the General Licence Conditions Booklet which will replace the current version (OfW195.1). We are proposing to vary licences to include a reference to the updated version of the General Licence Conditions booklet (version OfW592). We have published a draft version of this General Licence Conditions booklet (PDF, 228.6 KB).

For all other affected licences where Ofcom is not permitted to vary a licence by issuing a General Notice, we will be contacting licensees directly with the details of the changes.

Variation process

For Ofcom to vary wireless telegraphy licences, we are required by the law set out in Schedule 1 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 to:

  • notify licensees of the reasons why we are proposing to vary their licence(s);
  • specify a period in which licensees may make representations; and
  • within one month of the end of that period:
    • decide whether or not to vary licences in accordance with our proposal or with modifications; and
    • notify affected licensees of our decision.

Representations

We have already carried out two public consultations on our proposal to formally require licensees to comply with the ICNIRP general public limits. Licensees have therefore already had two opportunities to comments on our proposals and many have done so - we have received nearly 500 responses on our proposals and have had additional discussions with key industry and stakeholder bodies including the Radio Society of Great Britain, the Royal Yachting Association and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The specific proposals we are now giving notice of have been developed and refined taking into account all the comments we have received to date.

In light of the extensive consultation and engagement we have already had with stakeholders, we expect there to be limited issues that have not already been raised and which we have not already addressed. We would like licensees to be mindful of this when deciding whether to make any representations and to first refer to the information referenced below.

If you want to find out more about the background to our proposals including our previous consultations, you can read an overview of our EMF policy. If you have any questions about our proposed variation, we have answered some questions to help you understand what this means for you.

If you do wish to make a representation, you have until 18 April 2021 to do so. You can make a representation to Ofcom online:

For all licences except broadcast licences

Make a representation

Make a representation (Welsh)

For broadcast licences

Make a broadcast licence representation

Make a broadcast licence representation (Welsh)

You can also make a representation by post to the following address:

EMF Representation
Ofcom
PO Box 1285,
Warrington
WA1 9GL

Please note that with the current Covid-19 restrictions in place, it may not be possible to review all representations sent by post. We strongly recommend that you make a representation online if possible.

If you do not wish to make a representation, you do not need to take any action at this time. We will contact affected licensees again at the end of this process.

Decision to vary

After considering any representations received in response to this General Notice, we will publish our final decision on this page of our website. Our final decision will explain whether we have decided to vary the licence classes identified above to include the EMF condition. If so, our final decision will also explain whether we have decided to vary licences in accordance with our proposals (as set out in the “How we propose to vary licences” section above), or whether we have decided to make some modifications to our proposals.

We will publish our decision no later than 18 May 2021.

Receiving varied licences

After we have published our decision, we will begin contacting those licensees whose licence(s) we have decided to vary. We will either send through a replacement/update to the licence or provide information on where it can be obtained from.

Questions

We have answered some questions you may have about our proposals.

How to stay up to date

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