VITAL: The new heavier Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has been damaging the sports fields at Tenterfield, prompting council to seek government funding to construct dedicated helipads.
VITAL: The new heavier Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has been damaging the sports fields at Tenterfield, prompting council to seek government funding to construct dedicated helipads. Contributed

Why rescue chopper has nowhere to land in this town

THERE is no doubt the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter is a vital service, but for many residents in the Tenterfield Shire, there are concerns about where the helicopter will be able to land.

At the July ordinary meeting, Tenterfield Shire mayor Peter Petty moved a motion to seek government funding to construct helicopter landing pads appropriate for the new heavier helicopters being used.

Cr Petty said while the current Tenterfield landing site at Federation Park was useful, given the space and lighting, he said there was also unavoidable damage to the grounds with each landing.

The new AW139 helicopter, which was integrated into the fleet in 2017, is heavier than its predecessor, weighing in at 7000kg.

"The new chopper is much heavier than the previous one and when they land at Federation Park it can break the underground sprinklers and be costly," he said.

He said while the health and safety of community members came first, he believes it was time for council to look at constructing a dedicated landing pad, not only in Tenterfield, but also the outlying villages across the shire.

"Among other things to be suitable each pad needs to be 20m by 20m, so that's a lot of cement," he said.

At the meeting Cr Bob Rogan seconded the motion, and Cr Petty said he hopes council will be able to source government funding quickly in order to get the process moving.

Cr Petty said once funding had been secured, council would work with Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service to source suitable locations for each village.

"While, to the pilots' credit, the chopper always lands in weird and wonderful places, whether it's a paddock or just a clearing, we would prefer to make dedicated pads in a more central location where we can get ambulances in," he said.



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