New Zealand EMS operator Northland Emergency Services Trust (“NEST”) is planning to move to a new base due to expansion. The organisation has provided this statement from CEO Craig Gibbons to HeliHub.com
The Northland Emergency Services Trust Board of Trustees have long been aware of the limitations that the Kensington base has on operations. For one, the base is now smaller than what is optimal for operating three S76 helicopters on 24/7 standby. When you take into account our maintenance requirements, we estimate that a purpose built facility would need to be three times larger than our current space. On a second and equally important note is the fact that the current base is located in a residential area. While this is not a safety concern, as there are suitable FATO and TLOF at the location, the noise from the helicopters is disruptive and unhealthy for the neighbouring residents. The purpose of our service is to provide ‘early, safe, optimal patient care to protect life’ and there is a degree of irony that we may be causing some discomfort and distress to the residents that live close to the base. As such, we are planning to relocate to a more suitable location as soon as practicable. This may be a three to five year move to an interim base while we build a permanent home, or we may find a suitable facility in a more fitting location now that can serve as a permanent home. NEST is a part of the local Northland community, staffed by a team of Pilots, Paramedics, Engineers and support personnel who are locals. We are striving to achieve our mission with maximum community support.
A report in the Northern Advocate (a regional news outlet owned by the NZ Herald) states that Whangārei District Council has already indicated that the base will move on or before its site lease expired on July 31, 2023. This was apparently prompted by a campaign fronted by Roger de Bray, former CEO of Top Energy prior to his retirement in 2009, who is reported as living “100m from the Kensington helicopter base”, although the journalist writing the piece did not state whether he had moved there before or after the helicopter operations began. It is ironic that Top Energy continues to be a long-term sponsor the NEST operation, and their name appears on the side of each helicopter and above the hangar doors.
On the evidence we have, it appears that the operator is already planning ahead, and will vacate the site at some point in the next 27 months in line with planning requirements. It is a pity that the local news outlet chose to sensationalise this story by implying the move was forced upon the operator by noise concerns from an angry neighbour.
The image below is not that current but shows the scope of the base well with two S76s. NEST currently operates two S76C++ helicopters and one S76A