Public Services > Blue Light

Home Office and English national parks agree emergency services accord

David Bicknell Published 06 June 2016

ESMCP document confirms need to develop mobile network infrastructure while respecting national parks environment


The Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) has driven an accord between England's national parks and the Home Office over the need to install necessary infrastructure in the parks to ensure mobile communications coverage for blue-light services.

Both parties to the accord say they recognise that "a resilient, cost effective, emergency services mobile communications system, providing a secure and reliable service to users, is an essential component of critical national infrastructure."

The accord says the installation of the infrastructure "must respect the environment, in particular, within the national parks and their enhanced environmental sensitivities."

For their part the national parks authorities say in the accord that they "are keen to facilitate appropriate development of the mobile network infrastructure as part of a package of delivering connectivity."

The accord says that the benefits of modern communications technology are likely to be greater in national parks than other rural locations because of their high volume of tourists, in addition to the needs of their resident population.

As well as supporting the rollout of the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme in National Parks "so that users, visitors and residents can benefit from enhanced responsiveness by the blue-light services", the accord also sets out to support
close working between the Home Office and its contractors and the National Park authorities.

The Home Office and the national parks say they will identify key 'link people' for the purposes of constructive early dialogue over operators' plans for new infrastructure site rollout, while the Home Office and its delivery partners say they will engage with the national park authority at an early stage of there is a major phase of new site rollout in the area. They will also provide appropriate technical information to assist national park authorities to identify potential new sites and to demonstrate that an acceptable environment and network coverage location has been found.

The ESMCP is a Home Office led, cross-departmental programme to provide a new communication system for the three emergency services and other public safety users. The system, the Emergency Services Network (ESN), will operate across England, Scotland and Wales and will be used by the police, fire and rescue services, ambulance trusts and other public safety and security organisations.

The programme is due to be completed by late 2019 and is responsible for developing and implementing the replacement to the current Airwave service.

Mike Penning, minister for policing, fire and criminal justice and victims, said: "I am pleased to have signed this Joint Accord with National Parks England which will help deliver the emergency services' new communications network. This new critical national infrastructure will be sympathetic to the character of national parks in England. It will enable the three emergency services to operate enhanced services inside national parks using modern 4G voice and fast data service communications."

Jim Bailey, chair of National Parks England and the North York Moors National Park Authority said: "National Parks have always been about finding pragmatic long term solutions to the many competing demands on land. Ensuring modern telecommunications infrastructure is no different. The stunning landscapes and towns are the lifeblood for our rural economies. And we are delighted that the Home Office is committed to working with national parks to protect them. This is a welcome sign that we hope will be replicated by other government departments."


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