HELICOPTERS were not used to investigate a chemical haze on the Sussex coast over fears that it could have involved explosive gases.

Birling Gap was evacuated and more than 150 people needed hospital treatment when the strange haze was spotted on the Seven Sisters last summer.

The chemical mist hit the beach during a busy bank holiday weekend.

And it has now been revealed that the National Police Air Service and the Ministry of Defence were asked for help but said their aircraft could not fly.

People reported burning eyes, sore throats, skin irritation and vomiting after the gas engulfed the beach on the August bank holiday weekend a year ago.

Initially, patients were given full decontamination as a precaution

And now Eastbourne’s MP has criticised a local lack of equipment to assess the cloud. Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd, who has previously made calls for monitoring and equipment, said: “It is palpably ridiculous how crazy it is that they didn’t have a system that could assess just how dangerous or not this haze was.

“People couldn’t even fly overhead, you know the MoD and the rest. Just imagine if someone had died.”

East Sussex fire service used gas detection units, but found nothing.

Police, fire and ambulance logs were released under a freedom of information request. They showed the timeline of events from first reports of the cloud at about 5pm on 27 August last year to when the incident was stood down. Entries on the Sussex Police log included:

l6.40pm NPAS to do a sweep of the coastline to see if anything untoward has washed up please

l6.40pm NPAS not flying as unknown cause/chemical

l7.09pm UK Coastguard – unfortunately MoD have declined air support due to hazards

The fire service log said detection equipment was in use by 7.20pm, but an update at 8.02pm said “gas monitors used but nothing of note”.