HOSPITAL plans for emergency helicopter night flights have won crucial backing from council planning officers.
Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee meets on Wednesday to decide whether to allow choppers to carry passengers to Cosham’s Queen Alexandra Hospital between 6pm and 8am every day.
It can refuse the proposals, but its members have been advised by officers that the benefits of allowing the flights outweigh potential negative effects on residents.
Planning officer Ian Parkinson, who is in charge of the handling of the application process, advised councillors to approve the application.
His report says: ‘Use of the helipad between 6pm and 8am would result in noise and disturbance.
‘But the estimated number of helicopter movements between 6pm and 8am is limited, at three in a four-week period and the disturbance would be outweighed by the benefits of timely access to medical care.’
The hospital’s helicopter landing pad was created in 2004, with a condition stating flights may only take off and land between 8am and 6pm.
But health staff hope the restriction will be dropped, to allow emergency passengers to be carried swiftly to receive specialist treatment at night. Sixty-seven members of the public have contacted the council to support the plan.
They argue that temporary noise irritation caused to nearby residents is outweighed by the potential life-saving effects of allowing the flights.
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance service contacted the council to support the scheme.
It says the flights would improve quick delivery of critical care to patients, improve survival chances and enable patients to be rapidly transferred from other hospitals for specialist treatment. But 36 letters and emails have been sent by those living near the Cosham super-hospital, opposing the proposal.
They say they would be affected by noise and disturbance from extra flights, causing sleep deprivation and loss of value from their properties.
Some argued night-time road traffic levels are so low the helicopter does not need to be used at night.
Vicki King, of Hythe Road, Cosham, commented: ‘I frequently have helicopters flying over my home. The noise generated is enough to stop a conversation as you are unable to hear the other person.
‘It’s important the option is available but I believe it would reduce my family’s quality of life due to sleep disturbance.’