OFCOM VHF licence: changes announced due to EMF concerns

New requirements have been introduced for the OFCOM VHF licence due to concerns about the risk of exposure to electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions

New requirements have been introduced for the OFCOM VHF licence due to concerns about the risk of exposure to electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions from the 4G & 5G mobile phone network.

This will affect all licensable radio equipment carried on-board UK vessels, such as radio, radar and other emergency alerting equipment and applies to vessel and shore-based installations such as yacht clubs.

Licensees are now required to provide evidence that their installation does not exceed the general public safety limits for EMF.

New licensees must comply with the regulations with immediate effect.

Friends on a yacht

If you sail with family and friends, you will need to comply with the new regulations. Credit: Matthew Diggle

License renewals will have between 6 and 12 months, depending upon equipment carried, to comply.

All radio equipment emits EMF whilst transmitting.

The purpose of these new regulations is to protect members of the public from harmful EMF emissions.

The RYA has issued guidance for OFCOM VHF licence holders

It says if radio equipment has been installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it is ‘extremely unlikely’ that the installations found on-board recreational craft will produce harmful emissions.

Continues below…

A man using VHF. MMSI numbers

Send your questions to yachtingmonthly@futurenet.com for an expert answer and the chance to win a bottle of Chilgrove Bluewater Gin…

Give a thought to your inventory this winter to keep you cruising next season, says Rachael Sprot

Radio check

As another day’s sailing begins with radio checks on Ch16, Andy Du Port says enough is enough

An Arcona 380z which has electric propulsion

Electric and hybrid yachts are growing in popularity; we outline the current options for those making the switch

For the purposes of enforcement, OFCOM has included family and friends to be members of the public.

The owner, skipper, radio operator and any paid crew of a vessel are covered by alternate legislation and are excluded from these provisions.

If you are carrying family and friends on-board you will need to comply.

The RYA says evidence of safe installation can be achieved in one or more of the following ways:

  1. Fit equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and keep a copy of it on-board. If they have been lost, most are available and can be printed from the internet.
  2. If the manufacturer’s instructions cannot be located, OFCOM has created a simple online EMF calculator tool. By inputting your vessels equipment set up, the calculator will provide you with a safe separation distance between the base of the antenna and members of the public. You should keep a copy of this calculation onboard.
  3. If the equipment has been installed by a radio communications professional, the installer should provide appropriate EMF compliance instructions, these should be kept on-board.
  4. Emergency communications are exempt from the regulations. Communications relating to the safety of lives at sea, when there is grave and imminent danger to a vessel or person and assistance is required are not affected by these regulations. However, whilst you do not need to comply during an emergency situation, the equipment does have to comply during routine transmissions, including radio checks.
  5. The regulations only apply to equipment that can transmit in excess of 6.1W Effective Radiated Power (ERP). ERP is the total power radiated by an antenna, in the case of a typical 25W marine VHF radio set up, the ERP at the antenna is likely to be less than the 25W transmitter power due to the line loss caused by the length of the coaxial cable between the radio and antenna. VHF handheld radios transmit at a maximum of 5W and therefore are exempt from these regulations.

OFCOM VHF licence: Potential enforcement action

The RYA says the regulations cite ‘significant penalties for non-compliance; however, this should be put into the context that these regulations are aimed at the mobile phone network operators.’

OFCOM, in its guidance, has stated that: ‘OFCOM intends to take a proportionate and pragmatic approach to compliance and enforcement. It is not our intention to immediately take enforcement action and impose a financial penalty or other sanctions on a spectrum user if a site on which they are present is found to be in breach of the ICNIRP general public levels regardless of the circumstances. Whilst we may consider such action to be appropriate in certain circumstances, our key objective is to foster and facilitate a climate of compliance across all spectrum users subject to an EMF condition.’

One of the RYA’s concerns related to the definition applied to family and friends.

OFCOM has assured the RYA, and it is stated in their guidance notes that: ‘We will take all relevant circumstances into account when deciding whether to take enforcement action and what enforcement action may be the most appropriate, noting that proactive enforcement in relation to family and friends is unlikely to be our priority.’

Enjoyed reading OFCOM VHF licence: changes announced due to EMF concerns?

A subscription to Yachting Monthly magazine costs around 40% less than the cover price.

Print and digital editions are available through Magazines Direct – where you can also find the latest deals.

YM is packed with information to help you get the most from your time on the water.

  • Take your seamanship to the next level with tips, advice and skills from our experts
  • Impartial in-depth reviews of the latest yachts and equipment
  • Cruising guides to help you reach those dream destinations

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


 

 

Source: Yachting Monthly

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Related Post

NEWSLETTER

Sign up for Breaking News, Newsletter, Blog Posts and Special Deals from 1631 Digital and their media/marketing partners.

Subscribers agree to be contacted from 1631 Digital News and/or their media/marketing partners for breaking news alerts, newsletters and special media marketing offers via email, mail and/or texting communication.