New hope for helicopter base

REGRETTABLY, the battle to save our search and rescue (SAR) helicopter on Portland has failed.

It certainly was not through lack of trying, though, and I'd like to thank the many constituents and others who helped in the campaign to retain it.

However, I can now announce plans for a compromise solution, whereby a commercial helicopter company might take over the site in 2017.

The company is called HeliOps, which trains and provides pilots and crews for a number of roles - see website www.helioperations.co.uk.

Importantly, highly skilled jobs, both in the air and on the ground, would remain on the island and SAR helicopters tasked to our waters could refuel there, saving precious time.

I must stress that this is not a done deal yet, although a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes, as you can imagine.

It's not the end that I, and I know all of you, wanted, but I hope to have snatched something from the fire which will see the base and its multi-million hangar continue to be used for what they were intended - helicopters.