Approval for night-time sites for Devon Air Ambulance

Devon Air Ambulance.

Devon Air Ambulance. - Credit: LDRS

Planning permission has been granted for three new emergency landing beacons in Torquay and Paignton for use by Devon Air Ambulance.

The 10 metre-high lights will be at Quinta Playing Fields, Quinta Road, Torquay, Barton Cricket Club Playing Field, Barton Road, Torquay and White Rock Playing Field, Davies Avenue, Paignton.

They are are part of a network of ‘community landing sites’ across Devon for the air ambulance service that are opened with the help of local communities.

The aim is to provide the helicopters with a place to land safely at night. Under Devon Air Ambulance’s existing resources, they can be used until 2am.

Each landing area, 50 metres by 50 metres in size, will have remotely controlled floodlighting.

As well as allowing the aircraft to land safety, lights make it easier for crews to assess patients and create a clear space for interaction between land and air ambulances.

The landing site in Paignton is set for a football pitch next to White Rock Primary School. In Torquay, helicopters will land on the outfield of Barton Cricket Club.

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A third site is planned for the southern part of Quinta Playing Field, Torquay.

The approval for all three sites was granted at Torbay Council planning committee earlier this week. Each site is on land owned by the council.

Toby Russell of Devon Air Ambulance told the committee: “This is a different approach [to daytime landing sites] but it works. It’s safer and allows us to fly into the heart of communities on those hopefully very rare occasions that we need to.”

Concerns were raised by members of the public before the meeting about the light from the beacons and the noise the sites could create.

Officers said the lights from all three beacons would only be switched on when in use and would be switched off as soon as they were no longer required.

In addition, each beacon will be painted green to blend in with the environment when not in use.

Across Devon, 179 night-time landing sights have already been created, including two in Paignton and one in Brixham.

These three sites have been used 20 times in the past four years to reach patients.