Request for information on PLT equipment left in service by Ofcom following radio interference complaints

The request was partially successful.

Dear Office of Communications,

Ed Vaisey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative
Industries said in a written response to John Hayes MP, dated 10th
February 2011, Reference No 231634:
“The coalition Government recognises that PLT (power line
telecommunications) can give out radio emissions and that in a limited
number of cases this has caused interference to radio services”.
"Ofcom is responsible for their (EMC Regs) enforcement where there is a
radio spectrum protection or management issues"

"I can assure you that ANY instances of interference into
radio services are taken seriously and that Ofcom WILL continue to
investigate AND take action on a case-by-case basis".(my capitals)

In the light of the above authoritative statement by the Government
Minister, please provide all documents (redacted to remove personal
details) whether e-mails, letters, memos, diary notes including the
original complaints, relating to:
1 the investigation of PLT interference caused by BT Vision Comtrend PLT
equipment which was NOT resolved and which was allowed to be left in
service.
2 the investigation of PLT interference caused by other PLT equipment
which was NOT resolved.
3 State what action Ofcom took and if it took no enforcement action
please give reasons providing documentary evidence including but not
exclusively Ofcom field engineers reports or letters from the Secretary
of Ofcom or its enforcement officer or any other person within Ofcom
4 Please provide all case numbers related to the above.

If this work is expected to exceed £449 in cost, you may limit the
information to documents between 1st January 2009 and 1st January 2011,
to a cost of £449 but you must justify such limit by providing a full
breakdown of the time taken to find and redact the documents.

Yours faithfully,

Ken Underwood

Information Requests, Office of Communications

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Underwood

Please see attached correspondence.

Yours sincerely

Eleanor Berg

:: Eleanor Berg
Information Requests

[1][Ofcom request email]

:: Ofcom
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA
020 7981 3000
[2]www.ofcom.org.uk

show quoted sections

Dear Information Requests,

Could you tell which part of S31 you are considering please?

Yours sincerely,
Ken Underwood

Dear Information Requests,

Dear Sirs,

In response to your statement dated 24th March in which you state you are not going to supply the information requested within the 20 days laid down by statute, please explain your delaying tactics in the light of this guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office below.

Please note in particular that you are not entitled to take longer than 20 days under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

I note you have made the same extension to Mr Salter’s request. I take the view that this is unreasonable and in the absence of a satisfactory explanation or the information by Monday 28th march, I will complain to the Commissioner.

“ Freedom of Information Good Practice Guidance No. 4

Time limits on considering the public interest following

requests for information under the Freedom of Information

Act 2000

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has produced this guidance as

part of a series of good practice guidance designed to help understand and

apply the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

The FOIA requires public authorities to comply with requests for information

within 20 working days following receipt of the request. In cases where a

public authority is considering the application of an exemption that is subject

to a public interest test (known as a qualified exemption), the FOIA requires

the authority to reach its decision “within such time as is reasonable in the

circumstances.”

The FOIA does not define the word “reasonable”, but in our view it is not

acceptable for a public authority to take, as a matter of course, several weeks

to assess the public interest considerations. The ICO is therefore providing

this good practice guidance on what the Commissioner considers to be

reasonable. This should assist public authorities to give a reasonable

estimate to applicants, when they need to consider the public interest, of

when a decision is likely to be made and communicated.

The following should be noted:

• the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 does not permit any

extension of time limit beyond 20 working days for an authority to

consider the public interest in the application of an exception to

information that has been requested.

• the first edition of the Section 45 Code of Practice encouraged public

authorities to make all decisions within the statutory 20 working day

period “including in cases where a public authority needs to consider

where the public interest lies in respect of an application for exempt

information.”

Version 1

22 February 2007

Whilst the current version of the Section 45 Code of Practice makes no

reference to consideration of the public interest, our view is that public

authorities should aim to respond fully to all requests within 20 working days.

In cases where the public interest considerations are exceptionally complex it

may be reasonable to take longer but, in our view, in no case should the total

time exceed 40 working days.

Where any additional time beyond the initial 20 working days is required to

consider the public interest, the public authority must still serve a “refusal

notice” under section 17 of FOIA within 20 working days of a request even in

those cases where it is relying on a qualified exemption and has not yet

completed the public interest test. That notice must state the exemption(s)

being relied on and, if not apparent, why. The notice must include an

estimate of the time by which this decision will be made. If the final decision

is to withhold the information requested, a second notice must then be issued

providing the reasons for the decision on the public interest. No further notice

is required if the final decision is to disclose the information.”

I await your response

Yours sincerely,

Ken Underwood

Eleanor Berg, Office of Communications

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Underwood

Request for Information, reference: 1-169388997

Please see correspondence attached.

Yours sincerely

Eleanor Berg

:: Eleanor Berg
Information Requests

[1][Ofcom request email]

:: Ofcom
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA
020 7981 3000
[2]www.ofcom.org.uk

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Dear Eleanor Berg,
Regarding your late response to my request under the EIR 2004, may I draw your attention to;
“ Freedom of Information Good Practice Guidance No. 4,Time limits on considering the public interest following requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000”?

In particular;
“the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 does not permit any extension of time limit beyond 20 working days for an authority to consider the public interest in the application of an exception to information that has been requested.”

You are out of time, so please provide the information by return.

Yours sincerely,

Ken Underwood

CC Graham Howell
Secretary to the Corporation
Ofcom

Dear Mr Howell,
I am requesting an internal review of the way Ofcom has handled this
request.
Under Environmental Information Regulations 2004, you are obliged to
provide the information within 20 days. It is my intention to report
Ofcom to the Information Commissioner following your review. In the
meantime I must insist that you supply the information by return.
You are also in breach of the ICO's Good practice guidance as outlined
below.

“Freedom of Information Good Practice Guidance No. 4
Time limits on considering the public interest following
requests for information under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has produced this guidance as
part of a series of good practice guidance designed to help understand and
apply the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
The FOIA requires public authorities to comply with requests for information
within 20 working days following receipt of the request. In cases where a
public authority is considering the application of an exemption that is
subject
to a public interest test (known as a qualified exemption), the FOIA
requires
the authority to reach its decision “within such time as is reasonable
in the
circumstances.”
The FOIA does not define the word “reasonable”, but in our view it is not
acceptable for a public authority to take, as a matter of course,
several weeks
to assess the public interest considerations. The ICO is therefore providing
this good practice guidance on what the Commissioner considers to be
reasonable. This should assist public authorities to give a reasonable
estimate to applicants, when they need to consider the public interest, of
when a decision is likely to be made and communicated.
The following should be noted:
• the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 does not permit any
extension of time limit beyond 20 working days for an authority to
consider the public interest in the application of an exception to
information that has been requested.

Whilst the current version of the Section 45 Code of Practice makes no
reference to consideration of the public interest, our view is that public
authorities should aim to respond fully to all requests within 20
working days.
In cases where the public interest considerations are exceptionally
complex it
may be reasonable to take longer but, in our view, in no case should the
total
time exceed 40 working days.
Where any additional time beyond the initial 20 working days is required to
consider the public interest, the public authority must still serve a
“refusal
notice” under section 17 of FOIA within 20 working days of a request even in
those cases where it is relying on a qualified exemption and has not yet
completed the public interest test. That notice must state the exemption(s)
being relied on and, if not apparent, why. The notice must include an
estimate of the time by which this decision will be made. If the final
decision
is to withhold the information requested, a second notice must then be
issued
providing the reasons for the decision on the public interest. No
further notice
is required if the final decision is to disclose the information.
Enforcement
The Commissioner has set out above what he considers to be “reasonable” in
terms of the time scales for public interest test considerations. He is
keen to
ensure that the time taken in such cases is no more than is necessary and
that, unless there are exceptional circumstances, these time limits are
adhered to.
As it is a requirement of section 17 of the Act for decisions on the
balance of
the public interest to be made within a reasonable time, significant or
repeated
unreasonable delays in this context may lead to monitoring by the
Enforcement team and, in some instances, structured intervention. The
Commissioner’s Enforcement Strategy provides more detail about types of
intervention that may be considered.

Yours sincerely

Ken Underwood

Eleanor Berg, Office of Communications

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Underwood

Please see correspondence attached

Yours sincerely

Eleanor Berg

:: Eleanor Berg
Information Requests

[1][Ofcom request email]

:: Ofcom
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA
020 7981 3000
[2]www.ofcom.org.uk

show quoted sections

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