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Finding the right site for air ambulance and police air service

A search has started for a permanent home for the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity and National Police Air Service, both currently based at Filton Airfield, Bristol. The search will include possible options within the airfield itself and appropriate and available sites within a suitable distance from Bristol.

An expert review into the land required to meet the full operational needs of these services has shown that they need a site with between 13-19 acres of land in total. It will need to be a flat and level site, away from power lines and other obstructions.

Simon Smith, partner at Alder King who is leading the search for sites, said: “It’s vital that both of these helicopter sites continue to operate, which is why BAE Systems has given its full support to the continued operation of Great Western Air Ambulance Charity and the National Police Air Service.  We expect to submit a planning application for the redevelopment of Filton Airfield soon and, if approved, our plans will ensure that the two services have a home identified before any construction begins.

“We are currently looking at areas both on and off the Filton Airfield site, so no site is ruled out at this stage. We are working closely with both services to ensure the eventual site meets their needs as well as all legal aviation requirements.”

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity told us: “We get a tremendous amount of support from the Bristol area so will be making sure that any new home has excellent transport links to local hospitals. We are also very pleased that BAE Systems has confirmed its continued support for our operations, which will certainly help us maintain our aircraft and continue to deliver a great service. We’ll look carefully at all options to see what will work best.”

Avon and Somerset’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, said: “This service has been based at Filton Airfield since the early 1980s and has strong links with the area, so it is important that the airfield is fully assessed as one of the potential permanent sites. We do however wish to secure the best long-term operational capabilities and the National Police Air Service – alongside the Avon and Somerset Constabulary – will be looking closely at sites beyond the former airfield boundary. We need to continue to give the public the high level of service it expects so will look carefully at all options.”

A spokesperson for the National Police Air Service, which operates the Filton unit, said: “We are working with our colleagues in Avon and Somerset Constabulary to ensure that this service continues from a strategically-placed location. This will ensure we can continue to respond effectively to incidents across the region.”

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