DETERMINED residents fighting plans for a helicopter base in Almondsbury have issued a vote of no confidence in South Gloucestershire Council.

BAE Systems' application, for a base on greenbelt land near the M5 for helicopters used by the police and Great Western Air Ambulance charity, will be considered again by SGC.

SGC initially approved the plans in October last year, but that verdict was quashed at a judicial review after residents raised concerns with the council's decision.

They said the council had failed to impose a noise monitoring condition and properly investigate the environmental impact of the development.

Now, with SGC set to once again decide on the application, a group of 69 residents have issued a vote of no confidence in the council's planning department, saying they don't trust the authority to reach a fair decision on the development.

They said the council was guilty of a "lack of vigour in investigating" claims made by BAE and a "lack of rigour in applying the planning process" when members approved the application in October.

The protesters have handed the council a document which states their reasons for opposing the helicopter base.

Chief among their concerns is the noise that will be caused by the helicopters, the potential distraction to drivers on the M5, and the loss of greenbelt land.

The residents also assert that the helicopter base should remain at its current home at Filton Airfield. BAE wants to move the base because there are plans to build homes on that land.

Resident Julian Stinton, who has led the campaign against the base, told the Gazette: “We are so concerned about it and the conduct of the South Gloucestershire planning department that we have complained directly to the chief executive officer."

He said that other "shortcomings" of the planning department had come to light since the vote of no confidence.

Mr Stinton said that a joint statement by BAE and SGC in a briefing to councillors in June 2015 "could easily be construed as a warning to the planning committee to approve the Almondsbury Helicopter Base at the upcoming meeting one month later, or else there would be series consequences”.

Mr Stinton added: “I have been contacted by a council officer, stating that the vote of no confidence is being dealt with by the environment and community services department – which includes planning – not the councillors to whom it was addressed.

“This is like an accused being asked to decide his own culpability. I’m not sure if that is a good idea.”

A spokeswoman for the council said the authority would consider the residents’ arguments against the base before reaching a decision on the application.

She added: “The original application was quashed by the High Court and will come back to the council to re-determine.

“In the meantime residents are currently being consulted in order to give their views on the application.”