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Plans for search and rescue base at Newquay set for approval, despite noise fears

By CG_Steve  |  Posted: February 06, 2014

  • Two Sikorsky S92 helicopters would be based at Newquay under the plans by Bristow

Comments (10)

PLANS for a new search and rescue helicopter base at Newquay Cornwall Airport have been recommended for approval, despite concerns by local councils.

Bristow Helicopters Ltd hopes to operate two aircraft from the site, which would be available to run rescue missions 24 hours a day within a radius of 250 nautical miles.

The private company is taking over the service from the RAF and Royal Navy next year, after winning the £1.6 billion contract. It will operate 10 sites across the UK.

Both St Mawgan in Pydar Parish Council and St Columb Town Council have raised fears over noise levels and the possible impact on nearby Carnanton House, a Grade II * listed building.

History group English Heritage has also expressed concerns that the proximity of the base could “cause harm to the house’s significance”.

A report by Cornwall Council’s environmental health team suggests helicopters flying overhead could boost noise levels by between 30 and 50 decibels at Carnanton House and nearby properties.

It states: “It is generally regarded that an increase in volume of 10dB would be sufficiently intrusive enough to warrant the refusal of an application.”

However, bosses at Bristow have reassured locals that helicopters would not fly over the listed building or any other residential property in the area.

A council report states: “The applicant has clarified that all take off and landings are to take place from the main runway or taxiway only, including life and death missions, and there is to be no overflying of residential properties, including Carnanton House and properties at Carloggas.”

Bristow has also pledged to “review the operating conditions for all flights and agrees to place restrictions that reduce impacts of potential noise when operating from this site.”

Cornwall Council’s planners have recommended that members of its Central Sub Area Planning Committee should allow the head of planning to approve the application under delegated authority, subject to conditions on noise levels. They will make a decision next Monday (February 17).

News of the creation of a search and rescue base at Newquay was welcomed by community leaders in the resort last year, who described it as a “vote of confidence in the airport”.

John Fitter, Cornwall councillor for St Mawgan and Colan, said: “This is brilliant news for the community that lives around St Mawgan to have the search and rescue helicopter based there. There will be job opportunities for people and they will be recruiting some staff locally.”

The move marks the end of several decades of search and rescue provided by the RAF and Royal Navy, which ran a 40-strong fleet of Sea King helicopters. Under the new contract, 22 Sikorsky S92 helicopters will operate from the 10 UK sites.

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  • JeremyBadger  |  February 10 2014, 4:21PM

    Chuckjaeger, do tell us why an airport is an inappropriate site? This company would get these benefits no matter where they went in Cornwall would they not?

    |   6
  • chuckjaeger  |  February 07 2014, 10:08PM

    Does a private company moving this service here (rather than a more appropriate site) have more to do with it being an enterprise zone with financial benefits than any safety considerations? Things such as: - Business Rates relief: £40,000 a year for 5 years - Simplified planning: a Local Development Order is in place on all airport development zones with another Local Development Order pending on the adjacent business park - Extensive funding programmes via European Convergence, including Grant for Business Investment: 50% match-funding towards capital expenditure or salaries Just saying.

    |   -13
  • A_Visitor  |  February 06 2014, 7:52PM

    I echo what Twinscrew says. I am sure that if these historic buildings stood up to RAF Nimrods :) rattling them for over 20 years, then a few Helicopter flights a day shouldn't cause a problem!

    |   7
  • Newquaygreen  |  February 06 2014, 4:42PM

    Also means they can close Culdrose more easily in the future if the SAR isn't based there.

    |   -1
  • Newquaygreen  |  February 06 2014, 4:40PM

    Makes sense all round having all aviation on one site. Just need a helicopter servie to Scill now

    |   10
  • TWINSCREW  |  February 06 2014, 2:54PM

    History group English Heritage has also expressed concerns that the proximity of the base could "cause harm to the house's significance". Unbelievable, and as for "helicopters flying overhead" this is a daily occurrence in Cornwall, This house was built in c1700 and somehow withstood the war and RAF St Mawgan, I do not think a SAR operation will do much damage considering they will only operate when required to save lives. Bristows are investing in Newquay and around the UK and will provide local jobs although this need seems to be lost on some folk.

    |   12
  • BJinHelston  |  February 06 2014, 1:40PM

    May be faster, may have a greater range but operators definitely do not have the local knowledge needed for the waters around the Cornish coast. And why should it be a private commercial company running it who no doubt see it as a profit making venture. To use a well know phrase 'If it ain't broke don't fix it'.

    |   -10
  • JeremyBadger  |  February 06 2014, 1:06PM

    Culdrose belongs to the Royal Navy and as such is a secure site which does not allow private commercial companies to operate from there. There will be no difference in response times as the new Sikorsky S92 is faster and has a greater range than the 30+ year old Sea Kings.

    |   17
  • bazzerpage  |  February 06 2014, 12:49PM

    Keep it at Culdrose, and let the Forces personnel run it still. They do a fantastic job!

    |   -2
  • BJinHelston  |  February 06 2014, 12:09PM

    Simple solution - keep it at Culdrose where it belongs. Stupid decision to move it in the first place.

    |   -3