RAF Scampton: Crunch High Court hearing on placing migrants in historic Dambusters' home begins

RAF Scampton

Protesters outside RAF Scampton have made their views known about the Home Office plans

Will Hollis

By Will Hollis

Published: 31/10/2023

- 14:17

Updated: 31/10/2023

- 20:26

The country’s leading planning judges will decide if former airbases can lawfully be used to house thousands of asylum seekers

A two-day hearing has started at the High Court in London to assess whether Government plans to use military sites to accommodate migrants can continue.

Councils in Lincolnshire and Essex have brought their case opposing the move for judicial review under the claims that the Home Office is breaching planning law.

If successful, the local authorities could prevent migrants moving into RAF Scampton and force them out of RAF Wethersfield.

West Lindsey District Council, Braintree District Council, and a Braintree resident are combining their objection to use of a Class Q emergency planning tool which they say is being misused.

WATCH: RAF Scampton court hearing begins

The local authorities are accusing the Home Office of breaking planning law.

Sally Grindrod-Smith is Director of Planning, Regeneration and Communities at West Lindsey District Council.

She said: “The government have committed to making these sites safe, legal and compliant, and until the Home Office can provide the evidence that is the case, we will continue to challenge and seek assurance that's what they're able to deliver on this site.”

West Lindsey has previously tried to prevent work at Scampton through legal enforcement notices, but have accused the Home Office of ignoring them.

Porta-cabins, infrastructure and renovations of existing buildings have been steadily increasing since plans to house two-thousand asylum seekers at Scampton were announced.

Protesters have gathered along the busy A15 road outside the airbase gates for the past eight months.

RAF Scampton

West Lindsey has previously tried to prevent work at Scampton through legal enforcement notices


Mandy Richardson, who lives in the former married living quarters in Scampton says her life has been taken over by worry.

“I go to bed at night, think about it. If I wake up in the night, I'll think about it. It's on my mind all the time.”

She says her friends have noticed how it has affected her.

“…they're all saying it's getting you down, you've got to get away from it. But you can't if you live on camp you can't get away from it. You see it everyday. You go out in the car, it’s there.”

“We’re fed up of it. We want a life.”

Rachael Green, who also lives in Scampton, says she concerned for the school children who are separated from the base by only a “flimsy fence”.

\u200bRAF Scampton

RAF Scampton was the home of the iconic Dambusters


She said “It’s a fear of the unknown. “I just want to feel safe. I want to be sure that my family's safe and that my neighbours are safe.”

“No one is listening to what we need” she added.

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

“We are confident our project, which will house asylum seekers in basic, safe and secure accommodation, meets the planning requirements."

RAF Scampton is home to the legendary 617 Squadron that flew the Dambuster raids on Nazi Germany in 1943.

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