The changes to our licences (now finalised by Ofcom) will be implemented pretty much as proposed in the consultation draft, albeit with some consideration having been given to feedback from various parties including UK amateurs and the RSGB.
These conditions will impact all UK radio amateurs, although having said that, maybe not some QRP operators.
Speaking to some of the other club members, it's clear that if you radiate a signal that falls into the qualifying criteria for having to assess your station for EMF compliance, then that's what you should do - and in that case you should fully document that process. I've re-written this part of my article, because it was factually incorrect, and was itself misleading. The point I wanted to make was that the flowchart below (click to enlarge) clearly states that if you stay under the specified power output (10W EIRP, 6.1W ERP), then NO ACTION is required. This chart is a generic one however, and not specifically aimed at amateur radio licensees. The one that was previously issued by Ofcom (and posted here) from their amateur-specific guidelines document is very different. This has currently been withdrawn from their website, pending a re-write and will be re-issued again by June 8th. We'll have to wait to see exactly what the new version says, but the old one stated that if your usage fell below the 10W EIRP / 6.1W ERP limit, then you SHOULD DOCUMENT that fact and the reasons that you don't have to complete an EMF assessment. We shall see what transpires.
The 'no action' outcome does seem to be more reasonable than saddling low-power users (particularly many Foundation level licence holders) with the responsibility of additional EMF record-keeping. It's still not completely clear in my mind though. It seems at first glance that Ofcom have over-simplified the flowchart below to the point of ambiguity.
It's also true that Foundation licence holders can quite legitimately take their allotted 10W output power, top it up to compensate for feedline losses and insert it into the feedpoint of a high-gain Yagi, or even a modest colinear, and be very much in a position of needing to assess their station for EMF compliance (see bottom illustration) so beware of falling into that trap.
What has become a lot clearer - and this may not be any great consolation to UK amateurs - is that we have been given a little longer to either get our compliance documentation in order, modify our antennas, or give up the hobby. Let's hope that there are only a small minority of us in that latter category. In reality though, with many folks having to cram compromised antennas into postage-stamp-sized back gardens, we may be left with such crippled capabilities combined with the frustratingly high levels of noise pollution from VDSL broadband and cheap imported power supplies etc. that it may not be worth carrying on for some of us.
Perhaps if Ofcom were to go after the big noise polluters out there, then we wouldn't need to run any more than 10W to speak to each other, although that would be a very sad state of affairs.
None of that is going to impact the timeline for compliance though, and here it is:
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.
To view and download the new terms, conditions and limitations you can follow the link below:
Above: Yagi, sure - but I was surprised that even a standard colinear can tip you over into a compliance situation using 10W.
I'm sure there will be lots more to play out in the EMF shake-up.