Air ambulance revises plan to extend flying hours amid concern over noise impact

An artists impression of what the new MAGPAS headquaters could look like

An artists impression of what the new MAGPAS headquaters could look like - Credit: Archant

A life-saving charity’s plan to move its base has been revised following objections from councillors over noise.

Huntingdon-based Magpas applied to Huntingdonshire District Council to build a new operations centre close to Ermine Street and the A14 at the former Alconbury airfield, which is being redeveloped for businesses and new homes.

If approved, the site could see an air ambulance station, hangar, garaging for the helicopter and its emergency vehicles, together with landscaping, parking and access from Ermine Street.

Plans were submitted in June last year but the application has now been changed amid complaints about possible noise and disruption from residents and councillors living close to the Alconbury site.

The original plan set out by Magpas would have allowed the air ambulance to fly throughout the night, providing a 24/7 air service. However, the charity has now altered the application and flying will only take place between 7am-11pm. The period between 11pm and 7am will be covered by rapid response vehicles.

The Stukeleys Parish Council was among those to recommend refusal of the original application.

The coundil’s objection said: “There are two long-established homes in close proximity to the proposed helicopter landing zone. Those existing homes will be subjected to very high levels of noise and disturbance intermittently and unpredictably. No mitigation measures can fully compensate for the noise of a large, powerful helicopter taking off just yards away.”

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Magpas does not provide night flights from its current headquarters at RAF Wyton, with flights stopped after 7pm, but it does provide a 24 hour service by land ambulance.

Magpas has said that although it submitted a revised application for flying, it would still provide 24 hour service, seven days a week.

A spokesman said: “Even though the planning permission for this new air base would allow Magpas to extend its hours of flight operation; the charity has no plans to do this at present as we can provide our lifesaving service by land over a wide geography at night.

“The original planning application was for 24/7 flying; however there is no plan to extend our hours of flying. The charity plans to maintain its current model of responding to patients, by land and by air between 7am-7pm and by land between 7pm-7am.”

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