Originally written by ANGELA MCFEETERS
THE way is now clear for Portland District Health to formally apply for a helipad planning permit on public land opposite the hospital.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment has provided PDH engineering services manager Ian Douglas with the information he needed to apply for the Glenelg Shire Council permit, and Mr Douglas said he would make the application later this month.
The 15 metre square concrete helipad is proposed at the Ploughed Field, which is between Bentinck St and the cliff face and is currently grassland with a path and cable tram tracks running through it.
That is the preferred site for the landing position, and would only be used for emergency transfer or retrieval of critically ill or injured people.
So far this year six helicopter retrievals have occurred from Portland, including four using the south-west’s new HEMS4 emergency helicopter since the beginning of July.
Mr Douglas said he was continuing to apply for grants to help fund the $120,000 project, and community fundraising was also ongoing.
There is currently no helipad in Portland, and the rescue helicopter has landed on reclaimed land on Portland’s foreshore next to the visitor information centre twice in recent times because the Ploughed Field was too muddy for an ambulance to access it.
If the Ploughed Field site was approved public access would continue to be allowed when the helicopter was not preparing to land or take off.
A sign may have to be shifted as well as a flagpole, which Mr Douglas said had already been identified as a lightning risk, to accommodate the requirements of the emergency service.
• The Portland branch of Victoria Police’s Blue Ribbon Foundation has adopted the cause as its ongoing fundraiser and has already raised more than $10,000 for it.
Committee chairmen Bob Meek said tickets to the annual Blue Ribbon Ball on October 3 had already sold out, with to 400 attend.
A Blue Ribbon Foundation van will also be in Portland for the start of the Great Victorian Bike Ride in November, with a display about the helipad and foundation merchandise for sale with all profits at the time going towards the building of the helipad.