March 29, 2023 2.30 pm This story is over 8 months old

West Lindsey council considering legal action against RAF Scampton plans

‘Lincolnshire will fight and Lincolnshire will be proved right’

West Lindsey District Council is looking at legal action against the Home Office after the announcement RAF Scampton will be used to house up to 1,500 asylum seekers.

A spokesperson for the authority said the council remained committed to protecting, preserving and enhancing RAF Scampton for the long-term sustainable benefit of its communities.

West Lindsey, alongside development partners Scampton Holdings Limited, had hoped to create a £300million investment in the site, however, this has been scuppered by the government’s announcement.

Sally Grindrod-Smith, Director of Planning, Regeneration and Communities at West Lindsey District Council said: “We are extremely disappointed with today’s announcement, but we have been preparing for all eventualities.

“We are in constant dialogue with the Home Office to seek to demonstrate to them that RAF Scampton would not be an appropriate site for asylum accommodation.

“Any move to use the site for asylum seekers would likely curtail the nationally significant plans which the Council has been working on since 2018.

“Simultaneously we are considering all legal options, including urgent judicial review proceedings.”

She said there were a “significant number of barriers” to the Home Office’s plans.

“The Council has a responsibility to get the best deal for its residents and will continue to do everything to support the community and that also means working with the Home Office and partners in Lincolnshire to fully understand and support those who live and work in and around Scampton.”

Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh objected to the plans for asylum seekers at RAF Scampton | Photo: Parliament.TV

Following the announcement in the House of Commons, Sir Edward Leigh promised WLDC would launch an “immediate judicial review and an injunction “against this thoroughly bad decision which is not based on good governance, but the policy of trying to do something”.

“How can he guarantee that we will not lose £300m of regeneration, already agreed and signed, between WLDC and Scampton Holdings?” He asked.

“How will he preserve the listed buildings? The heritage centre? How will he preserve the heritage of the Dambusters? How will he guarantee there isn’t contamination from the fuel bay of the Red Arrows?

“How will he protect the safety of the 1000 people living right next door to 1500 migrants and a primary school?

“He can’t guarantee anything. Will he work with WLDC and Lincolnshire to find an alternate site? We’re prepared to do it, but we do not want to lose £300m of regeneration.

“Lincolnshire will fight and Lincolnshire will be proved right.”

In response, Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said the policy was in the national interest but that he understood the impact and concern.

“All parts of government want to work closely with local authorities to mitigate the issues,” he said.

“There will be a significant package of support for his constituents. There will be specific protections for the unique heritage on the site.

“We don’t intend to make any use of the historic buildings and will ensure the heritage assets are preserved.

“We see this as a short-term arrangement and want to enter in an agreement with WLDC to take possession at a later date so their regeneration plans can be realised in due course.”

Scampton Holdings Ltd chairman Peter Hewitt: “It is incredibly difficult to understand the government’s rationale for this decision, particularly in the light of the economic needs of the locality, as identified in the Chancellor’s recent budget.

“Earlier this week Sir Edward Leigh MP, met with the Prime Minister and presented our case including numerous letters of support from blue-chip businesses, academia, historians and the Local Enterprise Partnership.

“Despite assurances that these plans will only be temporary, it is nothing short of a backward step for the economic growth of the region. SHL remains resolute in our unwavering commitment to delivering the development proposal for Scampton.”

They warned that the Home Office’s plans are likely to delay SHL’s development plans for Scampton and could lead to further deterioration of the site.

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