Construction has begun began on a new airbase for Essex Police at North Weald Airfield.

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) airbase is expected to be completed this autumn by Kier Group, with flights taking off before the end of 2019.

The £4million project was greenlit after planning permission was granted by Epping Forest District Council last year.

Temporary chief constable John Robins, said: “This purpose-built base will be a superb addition to NPAS and we’re looking forward to the service going live.

“Police air support is a vital tool available to police forces to help keep communities safe.”

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

The Police and Crime Commissioner of West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson, chair of the NPAS Strategic Board, said: “The construction of the new base represents the continued progress of the National Police Air Service and is recognition of its crucial role in keeping people safe.

“This addition will further bolster our nationwide network, offering an increased level of support in preventing and detecting crime, whilst protecting some of the most vulnerable in society.

“The round the clock nature of the base also means it will be a key hub of activity, which will make a significant contribution to policing and police aviation services.”

Helicopters and planes will fly from the North Weald base, primarily serving London and the South East incidents. The airfield will be among a network of 14 NPAS bases which collectively responds to more than 20,000 incidents every year.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

NPAS will also offer support to the 43 police forces of England and Wales.

District councillor Anne Grigg said: “North Weald Airfield has a long standing history of protecting our community since opening as an airfield in the First World War, and becoming a Battle of Britain airfield in the Second World War, providing a home to spitfires and hurricanes.

“It is good to see North Weald continuing to play a crucial part in the local and wider community in the 21st Century.”

Phil Oades, regional director for Kier Capital Projects, said: “Working collaboratively with the National Police Air Service, we are delighted to be starting work on the new airbase at North Weald Airfield.

“Over the last three years, we have worked with NPAS to deliver vital new buildings and infrastructure to bases across the country. We look forward to carrying out this work which will directly benefit residents in London and the South East.”