At the beginning of March 2021, Ofcom put forward draft proposals to vary the vast majority of Wireless Telegraphy Act licences. This is in order to formally require licensees to comply with the ICNIRP (International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) general public limits and thereby ensure spectrum users continue to operate services which will not adversely affect peoples’ health.
Whilst the main thrust of these measures is undoubtedly aimed at high-power wide-coverage transmissions by broadcasters, mobile phone networks and other large scale RF facilities and utilities, amateur radio licensees as well as maritime radio licensees have been caught up in the scope of the implementation. As much as we may disagree with the new requirements, you can see why we've not been granted an exemption even if it does seem like overkill.
These are still early days, and the proposals as well as the guidance notes are still all in draft format, but this is coming and coming fast. It's likely to be fully applied and enforceable before the end of the year, so it's time to take an interest and start your planning.
The RSGB are currently working with the ARRL (who are also facing the challenge of ICNIRP compliance) to provide both practical tools and advice to help to minimise the impact on amateurs whilst allowing each licensee to be able to demonstrate individual compliance with the new licencing condition.
General information from Ofcom can be found here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/manage-your-licence/emf
whilst guidance on compliance can be downloaded in .pdf form here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0025/214459/guidance-emf-compliance-enforcement.pdf
and information including the above flowchart specifically prepared for the amateur can be downloaded here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0026/215657/What-you-need-to-know-as-an-amateur-radio-licensee-Draft-version.pdf - UPDATE the above document has been removed by Ofcom awaiting revision.
The RSGB support page is here: https://rsgb.org/main/technical/emc/emf-exposure
Everyone should be mindful that the EMF calculator spreadsheet that both Ofcom and the RSGB have been working on is NOT APPLICABLE for transmissions below 10MHz. That's not to say that you don't have to bother, rather that you must use alternative methods to demonstrate that your station is in compliance at those frequencies.
The most recent update from Ofcom is that licensees will have the following time periods to make sure they have up-to-date records in place:
a) Until 18 November 2021 for any equipment which operates on frequencies at or above 110 MHz.
b) Until 18 May 2022 for any equipment which operates on frequencies above 10 MHz but below 110 MHz.
c) Until 18 November 2022 for any equipment which operates on frequencies at or below 10 MHz.
Further updates on these changes will be posted on the MSARS website as new articles, so please search the website for those - including an updated version of the above flowchart.