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Council launches legal action against Home Office’s ‘irrational’ asylum seeker plan

RAF Scampton (Callum Parke/PA) (PA Wire)
RAF Scampton (Callum Parke/PA) (PA Wire)

West Lindsey District Council has launched legal action against the Home Office to challenge the decision to use a local Royal Air Force station as a site for asylum accommodation.

It follows an announcement by the Minister for Immigration on Wednesday to use RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire as a site for up to 2,000 asylum seekers.

The local authority said in a statement that it does not consider the base to be “appropriate” and that it is concerned Home Office proposals will affect plans to deliver a £300 million regeneration programme and put the “world-renowned heritage” site at risk.

It insisted there are a “significant number of barriers” to mobilising the site for asylum seekers, including “significant contamination” from previous site uses that would require “thorough remediation”.

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The body accused the Home Office of failing “to provide a satisfactory response” to questions raised and said it has therefore commenced legal action to challenge the government department’s decision.

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 April 6 2023.”

She added: “The Council is acutely aware of the concern caused by the proposal and the potential loss of much needed ‘levelling up’ investment. We will continue to press the Home Office to engage directly with our community to fully understand the concerns being raised.”

According to a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document published by the Government following its decision, the site would accommodate “single adult male” asylum seekers using a “phased approach” – starting with moving 200 people on site before increasing to 2,000 people over time.

The FAQ document said: “RAF Scampton has been identified as a surplus military site that is suitable for the purposes of asylum accommodation.

“The site will create new jobs and bring investment into the area, following the draw-down of the RAF facility.

“The site at RAF Scampton will provide accommodation for asylum seekers and is designed to be as self-sufficient as possible, helping to minimise the impact on local communities and services.”

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.