A town councillor has set out his support for a Met Police helicopter airbase to return to Lippitts Hill saying the force's current base in North Weald is "madness".

The Met first opened an air base in Lippitts Hil, High Beach, in 1980 but in 2017 agreed to transfer operations to the National Police Air Service signing a 25-year lease with the council to operate from North Weald Airfield.

Epping Town councillors expressed disappointment Epping Forest District Council had not consulted with them before the district council objected to the planned return of police helicopters to the Met base at High Beach.

While the district council wants to see the air service remain at North Weald Airfield, Tuesday's town council meeting heard support for the return of the air service to Lippitts Hill.

Town councillor Hugh Pegrum (and Deputy Lieutenant of Essex) said a base at Lippitts Hill would mean that helicopters flying into London would fly over less of Epping Forest than currently is the case with the NPAS aircraft based at North Weald Airfield.

Councillor Pegrum told the meeting the police helicopter regularly flies over the Lindsey Street area of Epping, despite the council having originally been told the flightpath would follow the M11.

He said the helicopter "has to go over far more of the forest" when flying into London from North Weald than it would if it was based at High Beach.

He added it is seven miles from North Weald to Lippitts Hill, and a further 11 miles to Westminster.

"Every time that helicopter goes into London (from North Weald) it is flying an additional seven miles.

"Lippitts Hill is quite to one side of the forest, on the Avey Lane and Sewardstone side."

He said: "It's madness it's not at Lippitts Hill in the first place. I can't see any good reason why it should be at North Weald.

"There are very few houses around the base at Lippitts Hill - far fewer than in Epping and North Weald."

In 2019 the district council agreed to the construction of a brand-new £4 million National Police Air Service (NPAS) airbase at North Weald Airfield – which has been serving the Met Police’s needs.

District and town councillor Nigel Avey said: "It's a done deal that they (the Metropolitan Police Service) are moving back to Lippitts Hill."