Site sought for new helipad on island

Arran police sergeant Dougie Robertson.

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A new bid is being made to find a suitable site for a helicopter landing pad on the island.

The previous helipad in Market Road had to be closed to allow construction of the new Brodick ferry terminal and it was later decided it would not reopen. The air ambulance and the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter are presently using Sandbraes Park in Whiting Bay as a temporary landing site, but it is not ideal.

Every landing at the site is being attended by the HM Coastguard service which in the past 12 months has amounted to more than 100 call-outs. However, the service it provides is not strictly in its remit and it is said to be affecting potential recruits.

Arran police sergeant Dougie Robertson told Arran Community Council that he was working with Dave Graham of HM Coastguard on Arran, under the Ayrshire Resilience Partnership, to try to establish a permanent helicopter landing site.

He said that the Coastguard commitment to the helicopter landings, which can see its presence required for two hours and more, was having ‘a huge impact on them’.

He said if a ‘bespoke’ permanent helicopter site could be established, it could be illuminated by the pilot from the helicopter without the need for other services to attend.

He said a site near the Arran Outdoor Centre was a possible solution but planning permission would be required. They were also looking at potential funding as, he said, the Scottish Air Ambulance Service does not provide any landing sites in Scotland.

The community council offered to support the moves in any way it could.

Three years ago the site near the Arran Outdoor Centre was identified as a potential helipad, as reported in 2016 by the Banner, but this was not taken forward at the time. However, it now appears to be back on the agenda for further exploration.

Other sites looked at in the past, including the forestry car park at the top of Lamlash hill and the Lamlash tennis courts, now the headquarters of COAST,  have previously been ruled out.