Magpas air ambulance base approved despite noise concerns

Plans for a new Magpas base at Alconbury have been approved.

Plans for a new Magpas base at Alconbury have been approved. - Credit: MAGPAS

Emergency medical charity Magpas has been given the go-ahead to build a new base for its air ambulance helicopter at the former RAF Alconbury airfield - despite complaints about noise from some of the neighbours.

The charity, which operates from a site at RAF Wyton and has its headquarters in Huntingdon, had already decided to cut night-time missions from its proposed new home in a bid to reduce disturbance.

Now Huntingdonshire District Council has approved its plans to build a new headquarters and hangar for the helicopter, with access from Ermine Street, which it said would bring “significant benefits”.

But people living near the site complained that helicopter flying would cause “unacceptable” noise and disturbance, would affect their health and cause a loss of privacy.

Stukeleys Parish Council also objected to the plan saying: “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.

The siting of a helicopter operation centre at this location is incompatible with the existing housing.”

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In approving the plan, HDC said the objections raised “material considerations” which should be taken into account, but concluded: “However, the planning merits of those comments have been considered and have been found acceptable.

“It is therefore not considered there are any material considerations that indicate the development should be refused contrary to the Development Plan.”

The council said: “Officers consider the proposal would result in a neutral impact in terms of noise. While it is likely to be noticeable, the mitigation measures and the infrequent nature is not considered to be sufficient to amount to an unacceptable impact to neighbouring residential amenity.”

Magpas, which also uses high-performance cars to send its crews to accidents and emergencies, is unable to continue leasing its base at RAF Wyton and considered the former Alconbury airfield, which is being redeveloped as a centre for new homes and business, as the best alternative.

In its planning application it said the site would be “operated conscientiously”. 
The application said: “This strategic location offers Magpas the best opportunity to continue their voluntary service, which provides relief to emergency services across the East of England and beyond.”