March 19, 2023 9.00 am This story is over 15 months old

The unanswered questions about the Scampton migrant camp

What we still don’t know about the Home Office plans

Secrecy continues over the government plans to use RAF Scampton as housing for asylum seekers.

Nearly two weeks after the news first broke, very little concrete information has been released by the Home Office.

The plans have caused uproar and uncertainty, with a £300million redevelopment for the site almost certainly on hold.

Lincolnshire MPs have called for clarity on what the government wants to do there – but this seems to have been met with silence.

Here are the key questions which still need answering. 

How many people will be housed there?

The government announcement said there would be up to 1500 migrants housed there while their applications are processed.

Considering the size of the site, it may be towards the upper end of this scale.

However, previous camp Manston experienced significant overcrowding, which led to poor, unhygienic living conditions.

During a visit by MPs in October, around 4000 were found to be at the site. 

It is important that the mistakes of the Manston scandal aren’t repeated in Lincolnshire. 

RAF Scampton, which is scheduled to be used by the Home Office as asylum seeker housing | Photo: The Lincolnite

When will it start operating?

Government contractor Serco seems in a rush to get the site open soon.

Job adverts for temporary Housing Officers were published last week, and were taken down just days later.

The government has been under pressure to find alternative housing than hotels such as those in Skegness.

It also has a huge backlog of more than 166,000 asylum applications.

With plans for a bill to deal with people arriving in the UK by boats, the government will almost certainly want to move sooner rather than later. 

Plans for the site originally released by West Lindsey District Council.

Will the huge redevelopment go ahead?

That’s the £300million question.

West Lindsey District Council had appointed Scampton Holdings Ltd to bring forth a massive business, leisure and heritage project for the site.

However the company is being kept in the dark about the site’s future.

Chairman Peter Hewitt said: “We simply cannot operate with 1,500 additional people in the vicinity. The result of this is binary as there is not room for both our plans and the Home Office’s.

“We’re hoping they can provide clarity so that business can get on with what business does best, but this will not put us off our plans. 

“Progress cannot be made until the Home Office make their decision.”

How long will it be there for?

The Home Office is indicating that the camp will be temporary – although what that means is an open question.

Sir Edward Leigh has urged that the air base is returned to normal as quickly as possible.

He asked the Home Secretary in Parliament for assures that the housing will be “strictly temporary, and will not upset the best deal that’s ever to north Lincolnshire”.

However, no one knows for sure, particularly with the immigration situation changing rapidly. 

Peter Hewitt said he hoped the housing “doesn’t push our project back five to ten years because half the battle with our proposal is ensuring the runway remains operational.”

A petition against Scampton asylum seeker plans has been signed thousands of times | Photo:

Will the government listen to public sentiment?

The response has been fairly unanimous – Lincoln residents aren’t keen on the home of the Dambusters being used as a housing camp.

It’s united political parties, with Conservative MPs and councils agreeing with Labour politicians on the issue.

A petition against the proposal has racked up more than 4000 signatures in a matter of days, and is still rising. 

Comments on it warn against losing an “important heritage centre” and a “symbol of RAF heroes”, while others look forward to the redevelopment opportunities.

Will the government respond to the criticism?

Disused RAF bases had been a proposed solution for some time, making it unlikely they will back down on the plans.

When asked in the commons, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “We are working with local authorities and MPs to make the right decision for communities”.

Opinions may differ on what the right decision for Scampton is. 

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