It’s taken them three months – but local MP Simon Hart has finally gained some answers from the National Police Air Service (NPAS) to his detailed questions about the future of the Dyfed-Powys helicopter service.
Mr Hart sought reassurances from the head of the police helicopter service that Carmarthenshire won’t suffer if the Dyfed-Powys helicopter ceases to fly from Pembrey next year. He put a set of detailed questions about response times, refuelling needs and “no fly zones” to the Chairman of the National Police Air Service (NPAS), Mark Burns-Williamson on March 27. After a three-month delay and repeated chasing Mr Hart has finally received an answer. “I had originally written to highlight concerns about longer response times if the helicopter was moved further away and to raise fears about gaps in cover,” said Mr Hart. Estimates based on modelling state that if the helicopter is moved to St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan then it will take 10 minutes longer than the current 20 minute response time to reach west Wales. Mr Hart said: “The NPAS response answered some questions but it also raised others, especially concerning response times and cover during busy holiday periods. I asked for further clarification on these matters.” He has now been told that the 30 minute flight time figure is based on “simulation modelling” which is being applied for the first time to air support. Mr Burns-Williamson adds that NPAS is reviewing its fuelling points in remote bases and that the modelling “does have some limitations and cannot fully replicate real life, nevertheless it is very robust.” Mr Hart said: “I also raised concerns about the impact that “No Fly Zones” such as Sennybridge Ranges will have on response times and have been told that Air Traffic Controllers make every attempt to allow police helicopters to cross restricted air space when safe to do so.”
Simon Hart MP
House of Commons
15, St John St
or 0207 219 3000