The £1 million is from the LIBOR fund and was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond, during the Autumn Statement in the House of Commons today (23 November 2016). The LIBOR fund is monies from fines levied on the banking industry for manipulating the LIBOR rate.
We are proposing to build the airbase on land at Outmarsh Farm, Semington, near Melksham. It will consist of an Operations Centre for our helicopter and aircrew and base for our Charity Team (3D image of our proposed new airbase, above).
We have already been granted outline planning permission for the Outmarsh Farm site and have submitted our detailed plans for the project to Wiltshire Council.
David Philpott, Chief Executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said:
We are delighted to have been awarded this £1 million grant from Her Majesty’s Treasury towards our new airbase. The funding will be used to complete the building, equipping and fitting out of our purpose-built Operations Centre and will bring together the aircrew, helicopter and charity team onto one site for the first time.
As has been the case since the charity was established, we continue to rely on donations and grants and make no demands upon the taxpayer to fund our vital service. However, I would like to thank those local MPs who lobbied on our behalf since without their help this funding would not have happened.
Our dedicated paramedics, doctors and pilots have saved countless lives in the 26 years we have been operating, thanks to the generosity of people raising the funds we need. Our new airbase will allow our essential helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) to save future generations.
We currently rent a hangar at Wiltshire Police headquarters in Devizes for our helicopter and aircrew while the charity team is based in rented offices in Calne.
Mr Philpott added: “Having a purpose-built facility will enable us to have full control over our future. Our preferred location at Outmarsh Farm, Semington, will enable our helicopter to reach all parts of Wiltshire within 11 minutes, as it currently does from its base in Devizes.
“If our detailed planning application is granted we will be launching a Capital Appeal to raise the remaining £1.25 million of the £5.1 million cost of our new airbase. We already have £2.5 million pledged by a benefactor. Come early 2017 and we hope groups, businesses and individuals across Wiltshire will all support our Airbase Appeal to secure the future of this lifesaving service for many more years to come.”