Charity unveils plan for new air ambulance base

Magpas offices in Huntingdon

Magpas offices in Huntingdon - Credit: Archant

Emergency medical care charity Magpas has launched plans to build a new base and headquarters for its air ambulance helicopter at Alconbury Weald.

Huntingdon-based Magpas wants to set up an operations centre close to Ermine Street and the A14 on land at the former Alconbury airfield, which is being redeveloped for business and new homes.

It has confirmed that it has acquired land at Alconbury Weald to build the new base - which includes an air ambulance station, hangar, garaging for the helicopter and its emergency vehicles, together with landscaping, parking and access from Ermine Street.

Documents submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council say potential noise impacts of the base would be a “key planning consideration” of its application but that the site would be operated “conscientiously”.

Magpas has its office at Huntingdon and has operated the helicopter from a site at the former RAF Wyton airfield where it has been based for more than 10 years.

But the Ministry of Defence has sold the site to a developer and, although the plans for redeveloping the airfield have not been finalised, the charity expects it will have to leave by June 2020.

Magpas said: “We are working on the design, finance and planning for the new base. We are looking at a number of finance options and the organisation looks forward to making further announcements about the base as development progresses.”

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Chief executive Daryl Brown said: “Magpas Air Ambulance is proud to have saved countless lives and is a leader in the training of trauma care doctors and paramedics across the country.

“The continued support from everyone who raises the funds to keep this charity running 24/7 is greatly appreciated. As ever, this funding comes in the form of public donations and subscriptions to our lottery.”

Magpas uses specially-equipped cars and the air ambulance to take accident and emergency department-level care to patients in life-threatening situations.

In 2017 it despatched crews to more than 1,600 incidents in Cambridgeshire and the East of England.

Its planning document said: “The site would be operated conscientiously, paying regard to the impact on any residential neighbours.

“In this context, the siting of the building has been designed to take account of the prevailing wind and flight paths, to minimise overflight of any residential properties and to ensure the helicopter flight paths follow the main sources of noise in the area, e.g. existing vehicle noise.”

The move comes just after Magpas announced a two-year appeal to raise £1.5 million for a new air ambulance.