To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many emergency services masts are planned for construction in Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency; and what steps she is taking to ensure that mobile phone services are provided from all four mobile network operators at emergency services network sites.
In delivering the Emergency Services Network (ESN), the mobile network operator EE will deliver up to 291 new mast sites. Government will deliver approximately 230 further sites (known as the “Extended Area Services” (EAS) sites) in the most remote and rural areas of Great Britain. Under the terms of the State Aid decision for ESN, any ESN site where EE offers a commercial service must be made available to the other UK mobile operators and interested parties to provide their own a service on an equal and non-discriminatory basis. The purpose of EAS is to deliver a ‘blue-light’ communications service. The service it will provide is based on road coverage and it has been this requirement which has driven the selection of sites across the country. Site selection criteria for commercial services is done on a different basis; and consequently, there is a variation in the basic requirement of EAS and those of commercial operators.
The Home Office led Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP), does recognise the need to exploit the sites being built in the EAS for wider commercial use. ESMCP has been in discussion with the governments of Wales and Scotland, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and has agreed to build these sites, wherever possible, to a design specification that can be readily enhanced to allow site-sharing with commercial operators.
For the Westminster Constituency of Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, there are currently up to 5 proposed new EE sites in the constituency and the EAS project intend to build twelve new EAS radio sites. In addition, three existing Airwave masts are under consideration, subject to a feasibility investigation. Delivery of these sites is subject to planning permission and the acquisition of land.