South Gloucestershire Council has reversed its approval for a new helicopter base in Almondsbury following a legal challenge. The heliport was planned to serve both the Great Western Air Ambulance and the National Police Air Service, whose helicopters are currently based at Filton Airfield. Filton, most famous for its role in the development of the supersonic airliner Concorde, is to be redeveloped by a Malaysian company and has outline planning permission for 2,675 residential dwellings and has up to 24 hectares assigned for commercial use. Filton had been rejected as a long-term location on the grounds that it would mean the loss of 400 dwellings from the plans, despite the air ambulance and police helicopters having been based there for many years.
The council planning committee approved the heliport at Almondsbury in July last year, but a local resident has threatened to issue proceedings to put the decision into a “judicial review” on the grounds that the Council had
(1) not properly assessed the environmental impact of the development;
(2) not imposed a noise monitoring condition; and
(3) failed to take account of the fact that there was an option for the current Filton site to be retained
South Gloucestershire Council has reportedly taken legal advice that suggests both of the first two points have a realistic prospect of succeeding, while the third did not. The plans will thus need to be resubmitted to the Council, who will obviously be taking heed of the threat they have responded to in making a decision in the future.
No mention has been made of the very close proximity of the M4/M5 motorway junction and the potential safety impact on traffic on these two motorways of low-flying helicopters and way drivers may react to suddenly catching sight of an aircraft on final approach or climb-out to the helipad.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
Photo (c) 2015 Paul Beale, www.paulbealephotography.com
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