Concern about the lack of a permanent helipad in the Outdoor Capital of the UK, which attracts thousands of adventure visitors, might soon be allayed.
An empty site at Fort William has been suggested as a possible landing zone for emergency helicopters in the Lochaber town.
Members of Highland Council’s Lochaber Area Committee discussed using vacant land near the new ambulance and police station at Blar Mhor.
Rob Dalziel and Alan Knox, of the Scottish Ambulance Service, (SAS) explained how they are currently dealing with emergency flights.
Helicopters have to land either at Carr’s Corner, next to the busy A82 Inverness to Glasgow road at the north end of the town, or at Glen Nevis Business Park.
West End Car Park is also used in emergencies, but it is rarely available during the summer months because it is full of cars.
Mr Knox, the SAS’s area service manager for Lochaber, Skye and Lochalsh, said: “We really, really need to look for a sustainable long term landing site for the area.
“I don’t know what the future is for Carr’s Corner. It’s sustainable at the moment as a secondary landing site, but, for the future, is it going to be a development site that houses will go on?”
Councillor Bill Clark, Caol and Mallaig, suggested using land at Blar Mhor and Councillor Bren Gormley, Fort William and Ardnamurchan, pointed out that the new hospital planned for Fort William at Blar Mhor would include a helipad.
He said: “It may be that planning for the hospital will soon get to a point where the exact locations of the helicopter landing site will be identified.”
Mr Dalziel, of the ambulance service’s Air Ambulance Division, said a helipad at the new hospital would be ideal.
The area committee recommended that Lochaber Community Safety Action Team should consider using land at Blar Mhor to provide a permanent helicopter landing site in the town.
They also recommended that the team considers further options for helicopter landing sites as part of the NHS hospital plan.