Home Office to use RAF Scampton base as asylum centre four-and-a-half years – reports
The Home Office is reportedly wanting to use the former RAF Scampton air base as an asylum centre for at least four-and-a-half years.
Although recent legal proceedings have cited documents indicating a development timeline of up to three years, it is understood that the government agency now plans to house up to 2,000 migrants on the site for even longer.
At a Corporate Policy and Resources Committee meeting on Tuesday, West Lindsey district councillors and officers deliberated on advancing their legal challenge against the Home Office.
The press was excluded from the meeting, but Scampton councillor Roger Patterson (Conservative) has reported that the government’s Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed development now indicates a timeline of up to four and a half years.
At the council’s judicial review on October 31 and November 1, Richard Wald KC, representing WLDC, highlighted that the government’s initial plan, evaluated on March 24, was for a “temporary” one-year arrangement under Class Q emergency planning powers, set to expire this April. However, various documents and letters suggest that the Home Office intended to use the site for at least two years.
Additional details of the Home Secretary’s strategy were revealed in a letter to MP Sir Edward Leigh dated October 27. It outlined plans to use Class Q Rights for RAF Scampton camps, followed by a Special Development Order (SDO) to extend the development for a further three years.
Mrs Justice Thornton ultimately ruled in favour of the Home Office after the legal proceedings, but the council plans to appeal this decision.
Coun Patterson, commenting on the varying timelines, stated: “The Home Office either haven’t got a clue what they’re doing or are deliberately setting out to deceive people. I suspect it’s the latter. They must have planned this for a long time.”
Reflecting on almost a year of resistance to the plans, the councillor highlighted the importance of safeguarding the proposed £300 million investment from Scampton Holdings Ltd, intended to redevelop the site with a museum, a Red Arrows museum, and additional features.
He believes that the legal expenses for contesting the government plans pales in comparison to the potential benefits the redevelopment could bring to the region.
Activity at the former RAF base remains minimal, with the district councillor noting that further preparations are necessary before people can be relocated there.
He noted: “I couldn’t possibly see [the migrants] there until summer,” theorising about the situation if the legal challenge were to fail.
Sarah Carter, leader of the Save Our Scampton campaign group, was not surprised upon hearing the news. After briefly pausing her campaign against the plans following the judicial review, she reaffirmed her commitment to opposing the SDO.
“Home Office, bring it on,” she said.
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While the government agency refused to confirm their intentions, a spokesperson stated: “Delivering accommodation on surplus military sites provides more orderly, suitable accommodation for those arriving in small boats while reducing the use of hotels.
“We understand the concerns of local communities and are liaising with councils and local services to manage the impact of using these sites on a temporary basis. We remain committed to working with key partners to facilitate their visions for Scampton in the future.”