Filton airfield closure would affect Great Western Air Ambulance

A Great Western Air Ambulance (GWAA) employee has said relocating from an airfield that is due to close will have a "substantial impact" on services.

The service is based at Filton airport near Bristol, which is to close from the end of 2012 following a review of its commercial and economic viability.

In a letter to South Gloucestershire council, a GWAA advisor asked for the service be retained at the airfield.

The council said it would take GWAA's views into consideration.

In the letter to Amanda Deeks, chief executive of the council, Professor Jonathan Benger said: "The location of our service is critical to our success.

"Life-threatening events are most common where the population density is highest, and Filton Airfield provides us with a helicopter base that is well suited in relation to our area of coverage, whilst being close to the most densely populated areas of Bristol and ideally situated between the road and motorway network.

"This allows our fast response car to reach patients as swiftly as possible when the helicopter is not operational or when the proximity of the incident means that our car will provide the fastest response.

Registered charity

"Relocating GWAA away from the Filton site would have a substantial impact on our effectiveness and ability to respond.

"I would therefore request that the service be retained in its current position, or if re-provision proves essential that it is done as nearby as possible."

The service was launched at Filton three years ago and operates in Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire.

A registered charity, it is funded entirely by donations.

Prof Benger said that while it could be based elsewhere, Filton airfield was the ideal spot.

Up to 5,000 homes could be built on the site but local residents say they want to see the runway preserved and the land used for the aviation industry.

A spokesman from South Gloucestershire Council said its officers had met Air Ambulance representatives and discussed their concerns and operational requirements.

"In light of the announcement to close Filton Airfield we will continue to ensure their views are taken fully into consideration in discussions regarding the future of the airfield," he added.

A BAE Systems spokeswoman said: "BAE Systems is aware of the correspondence between Great Western Air Ambulance and South Gloucestershire Council and is in discussions with a number of parties regarding the future use of the airfield."

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