April 3, 2023 11.00 am This story is over 14 months old

Council begins legal action against government’s RAF Scampton plan

Legal proceedings have officially begun

By Local Democracy Reporter

West Lindsey District Council has launched legal action and issued an ultimatum to the Home Secretary, contesting the use of RAF Scampton as temporary asylum seeker accommodation.

The future of RAF Scampton has been thrown up in the air following the Home Office’s confirmation of plans to house asylum seekers at the now-retired RAF base.

It has impacted West Lindsey District Council and Scampton Holdings’ £300 million vision to convert the site into a heritage, tourism and enterprise area – preserving the history of RAF Scampton and creating job and education opportunities in the process.

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Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick announced last week that RAF Scampton would be one of the sites used to house up to 2,000 migrants, but this has been contested by the local authority.

West Lindsey District Council has often made clear its stance of feeling the base isn’t suitable for the purpose, and voiced discontent at the lack of planning permission for this change of use at RAF Scampton by the Home Office.

As a result, the council has officially launched legal action against the Home Office, calling for a response from Home Secretary Suella Braverman no later than 4pm this Thursday.

Save Our Scampton sign protesting Home Office plans to house asylum seekers on former RAF Scampton | Photo: The Lincolnite

The Council’s Director of Planning, Regeneration and Communities, Sally Grindrod-Smith, said: “Despite ongoing attempts by the council to set out to the Home Office the irretrievable damage that would be caused to the once in a generation investment opportunity that is on the table, the Home Secretary has taken the decision to utilise RAF Scampton as a site for asylum accommodation.

“The council considers that the decision is irrational and moreover the Home Office does not have the appropriate planning permission for the intended use.

“The council has therefore issued a letter before action, sent in accordance with the Pre-Action Protocol for Judicial Review, which requires the Home Secretary to respond by no later than 4pm on Thursday, 6, April 2023.”

The Home Office published a frequently asked questions section to try and contextualise the RAF Scampton situation, saying it was identified as a “surplus military site” which will “accommodate single adult male asylum seekers”.

Under the suitability section, the Home Office say that the Home Secretary has a “statutory obligation” to provide accommodation to “destitute asylum seekers”, as per Sections 95 and 98 of the Immigration Act 1999.

The Home Office goes on to say it “recognises the importance of the rich heritage” of the site, and will not use any of the heritage assets within its plans for RAF Scampton.

West Lindsey District Council says it is “acutely aware” of the concern caused by the proposal, and will continue to press the Home Office to “engage directly with our community to fully understand the concerns being raised.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Delivering accommodation on surplus military sites will provide cheaper and more orderly, suitable accommodation for those arriving in small boats whilst helping to reduce the use of hotels.

“These accommodation sites will house asylum seekers in basic, safe and secure accommodation as they await a decision on their claim.

“We understand the concerns of local communities and will work closely with councils and key partners to manage the impact of using these sites, including liaising with local police to make sure appropriate arrangements are in place.”

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