Noise concerns over plans for new Magpas air ambulance HQ

The old police dog compound at Alconbury Weald which is the site of the new Magpas HQ.

The old police dog compound at Alconbury Weald which is the site of the new Magpas HQ. - Credit: Geoff Soden

Air ambulance Magpas is facing a formal restriction on night-time flights in its helicopter if it gets the go-ahead to open a new base at Alconbury Weald.

Planners at Huntingdonshire District Council are recommending that the Huntingdon-based emergency medical charity should have the new headquarters approved but are seeking a condition which would only allow outbound flights between 7am and 7pm.

Noise from the helicopter has led to objections to the scheme from residents but planners consider the impact would be neutral with limits in place.

Daryl Brown, Magpas chief executive, said they had altered their plan to keep disturbance to a minimum.

He said: “We have been thankful to receive so many notes and messages of support from the community we serve for this move. We have also listened to concerns raised by nearby local residents and have explored noise mitigation measures which we hope will ensure disturbance will be kept to a minimum. Our new aircraft lifts much more quickly and will take flight routes that avoid directly flying over or low to nearby residential developments in and around Alconbury.

Mr Brown said: “In recognition of concerns raised by a small number of residents very near to the development regarding sleep disturbance, Magpas has altered its planning application to allow air ambulance flights from the site between 7am and 7pm, this mirrors our current hours of flying, Magpas is still currently the only service in the region available 24/7, however with the launch of our second team based in Luton we are able to continue to cover the region well through the night by car from our two operating sites.”

He said: “The new facilities will greatly enhance the charity’s ability to train new doctors and paramedics. Planning permission is to allow for a continuation of service with the new facility supporting the current operations of the charity.”

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Magpas, which would use rapid response vehicles at night, will be funding the development through a mixture of large grants and finance and is keen to talk to local firms which would support the scheme.

At present the charity operates from a site at RAF Wyton but is having to relocate ahead of redevelopment there.

It wants to build a new headquarters, air ambulance station, a hangar for the helicopter and garaging for its emergency vehicles at Alconbury Weald, a former military airfield which is being converted into a major commercial and residential site.

The council, where the Development Management Committee will consider the application on September 21, has received 15 letters of objection, raising concerns about noise, crash risks, road safety and claiming a breach of the Human Rights Act.

A report to the committee said: “Officers consider the proposal would result in a neutral impact in terms of noise.”