WORK on a new helicopter base in Almondsbury will begin early next year, after plans put forward by the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity were finally given the go-ahead.

Almondsbury residents had fought a long campaign against the proposal, raising concerns over building on the green belt as well as noise pollution and disturbance caused by night-time flights.

Permission for the development, adjacent to the A38 and M5 junction, was granted by South Gloucestershire Council planners last year, but the decision was quashed in a judicial review earlier this year, after residents explained the council had failed to impose a noise monitoring condition and properly investigate the environmental impact of the development.

The resubmitted plans went before a committee in August this year and the council issued planning permission.

They offered the compromise that professional noise monitoring equipment be installed at the facility, and that a liaison group begins meeting once development begins, as opposed to when the base becomes active.

Due to the development being on the green belt, the decision was referred from the council to the Secretary of State, who decided not to call in the case.

A South Gloucestershire Council spokeswoman said: “The six-week period for a legal challenge to be made has now passed and therefore the development can proceed.”

The emergency helicopter base, currently at Filton Airfield, will now be relocated to the new site.

Julian Stinton, of Almondsbury, was one of the residents who had campaigned against the development.

He said: “We felt it should have been developed elsewhere, and not on the green belt land here.

“The decision has been made now and we have put a line under it.”

The air ambulance has been based in Filton since 2008, but as the airfield is being developed for housing the charity had to find a new operations base.

The proposals include a hangar to house a GWAAC helicopter and police helicopter, a grassed approach and take off area, parking facilities, a Met Office weather station and a new access road via Gloucester Road.

The permission was granted in the same week as the charity received a £1m grant from the government’s Libor fund - which accepts applications from emergency services seeking extra funding towards a good cause.

Chief executive of GWAAC, John Christensen, said: “Finding a new base has been a long journey for us, and I am glad that it is now finally over, and we can begin work.

“Our main focus has been to find a site that is easily accessible both by helicopter and car, and the Almondsbury site was the only viable option.

“I am pleased that we will have a modern base that will ensure that we can continue to provide this life-saving service.”

Work on the base will begin in early 2017 and the charity hopes to be operational from the site by the end of the year.