The controversial proposals for a dual-service heliport at Almondsbury have now received planning approval, according to the Gazette series. The site, close to the junction of the M4 and M5 motorways, will become the new base for both the National Police Air Service and the Great Western Air Ambulance in the Bristol area. Both currently operate from a site within the disused Filton Airfield – most famous for its development of the supersonic Concorde airliner – but redevelopment is pending and they needed to find a new base.
The plans had already been approved, but shortly after moved back into a judicial review early in 2016 after complaints were raised – this process allows for a further independent review, and is binding. A large number of local residents from two nearby villages had raised concerns on the basis of noise levels, operational hours (particularly nights) and an environmental impact on “green belt” area. Proponents of the site pointed to the fact that the site is located close to two motorways and another major road, and thus these factors were of much lower significance because the road network had already been in place many years.
The only aspect we have been unable to verify is what consideration was given to the level of distraction to road drivers would be on helicopter take-offs and landings. National Police Air Service and the Great Western Air Ambulance could be operational from the site within 12-15 months.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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