Lift off for West Hill landing site

Devon Air Ambulance (for illustriation only). Picture: Devon Air Ambulance Trust

Devon Air Ambulance (for illustriation only). Picture: Devon Air Ambulance Trust - Credit: Devon Air Ambulance Trust

A community project to provide a landing site for Devon Air Ambulance will have lift-off after planning approval was granted.

Residents in West Hill have smashed their £3,000 target to install a new 10 metre steel column and two LED lights, as well as electrical items - including a remote switching unit - on the playing field.

Once installed, the life-saving charity will be able to land its helicopters throughout the day and night as it can activate the floodlights from its control centre.

Planning permission was not required for the helicopter landing but for the flood lighting, which was needed to establish the night time facility.

The planning officer said: "The Devon Air Ambulance [DAA] has historically only operated during the day but now funding has been secured to facilitate night flying.

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"To achieve this objective, the air ambulance is required to develop a network of community landing sites.

"The sites enable helicopters to land quickly and safely where patients can be transferred from a land ambulance to an air ambulance.

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"Securing the funding for night flying for the Devon Air Ambulance is clearly an important issue and the ability to provide 24 hour emergency response weighs heavily in favour of the proposal."

No objections were received from EDDC's environmental health officer on the basis of the emergency nature of the proposal, but the officer added the lighting should only be used during emergencies by the air ambulance.

Members of the Otter Vale Probus Club teamed up with the parish council and primary school to fundraise the four figure sum.

As part of the funding process, residents were invited to a drop-in session to find out more about the project back in February, and quickly rallied to support the project.

DAA hopes to have up to 250 sites in the county in the next two to three years. There have been several night landing sites set up in East Devon by the charity.

These include, but are not limited to, both Sidmouth Rugby Club's pitches, Ottery Football Club, Peace Memorial Playing Field in Colyford, Honiton Rugby Club, Longmead Recreation Ground in Hemyock, Beer Football Club, Seaton Cricket Club, Kilmington Cricket Club and Axminster Town FC.

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