Dorset

Portland helicopter base will remain open

Portland helicopter Image copyright Stefan Czapski
Image caption The base at Portland was expected to close in 2017

A coastguard helicopter base has been saved from complete closure.

The Portland base was expected to shut in 2017 when the coastguard helicopter is replaced by a regional service.

But Heli Operations, which currently provides air crew and support services at the site, said it has now bought the base.

It said it would offer landing and refuelling for the search and rescue helicopter due to be based at Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire.

The firm said it also planned to continue to run training for search and rescue pilots at the base.

Stephen Gladston from Heli Operations said: "The base will still close as a coastguard helicopter rescue base.

"But it gives search and rescue operations a refuelling opportunity, or in bad weather, Portland will be opened up for them to land."

More than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for the Portland coastguard helicopter to be retained.

The government claims the new system of a fleet of helicopters operating from 10 bases will "modernise" the service and cut costs.

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