ABOVE: A Wildcat helicopter refuels during 2020’s Operation Rescript.
Eshott Airfield has submitted an application to Northumberland County Council in the hope that military and emergency service helicopters will be allowed to operate from the airfield once more.
“Northumberland County Council have decided there should be a democratic process to see whether the public want military or emergency service helicopters to be allowed back to Eshott,” noted the airfield on social media; adding that they would shortly be canvassing public support for the cause.
A long-running dispute saw Eshott Airfield served with an enforcement notice in December 2022, with Northumberland County Council claiming it did not have the required planning permission for use by emergency and military aircraft. The facility had previously been used as a refuelling station by the UK Coastguard and MoD helicopters.
Speaking to the Northumberland Gazette in December, Airfield Director Richard Pike noted: “We have proved our value working with the Coastguard in time saved during coastal searches with our rotors running refuelling capability”. However, he clarified that “[the council] will not allow us to train with crews which is essential for a safe operational response. An aircraft low on fuel, returning from an emergency, is not allowed”.
A council spokesperson at the time clarified their view that “the site is not currently considered suitable for regular commercial refueling or heavy aircraft,” adding that they remained “fully supportive for the airfield to be used by military and air-sea rescue aircraft in genuine emergencies”.
Both Eshott Airfield and Northumbria County Council have been approached for comment.
IMAGE: ESHOTT AIRFIELD