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Number of migrants planned for RAF Scampton to be capped at 800

The number of asylum seekers planned to be housed at a former RAF airbase will be capped at 800, down from 2,000.

Home Office minister Tom Pursglove confirmed in a letter to the MP for Gainsborough, Sir Edward Leigh, that the “regular occupancy” at RAF Scampton, near Lincoln, would be a maximum of 800 asylum seekers.

It comes after 2,000 male asylum seekers were originally due to be housed on the former base, but none have yet moved onto the site.

Mr Pursglove added in the letter that if “capacity is required to deal with unexpected higher than forecast levels of intake”, about 300 extra bedspaces may be utilised for “short and defined periods of time”.

A view of RAF Scampton, in Lincoln.
A view of RAF Scampton, in Lincoln (Callum Parke/PA)

He added: “It is important that we are reducing hotel costs and delivering our asylum accommodation sites in a safe and orderly manner.

“Implementing a cap on occupation demonstrates that our priority is listening to local concerns, mitigating impacts, and managing the site safely.”

The Home Office plans to use a Special Development Order (SDO) for the site, which was previously home to the Red Arrows and the famous 617 “Dambuster” Squadron.

The Government can use an SDO to secure planning permission through Parliament, but it can only be granted after an assessment of the environmental impact of the plans.

West Lindsey District Council (WLDC) had earmarked a £300 million regeneration plan for the site, which was put on hold when the Government announced its migrant plans last year.

Sir Edward said he was “pleased” at the news but added he was “seeking further reassurance that they will be prohibited from going onto the former married quarters and that the accommodation they are housed in will be temporary”.

He added: “Our chief concern remains that we now get the vast majority of the site released to West Lindsey District Council as soon as possible so that regeneration can be kickstarted without delay.”

WLDC has recently launched a fresh legal challenge over Government plans to extend the use of RAF Scampton as accommodation for asylum seekers until at least April 2027.

Roger Patterson, Conservative councillor for the area, told the Telegraph: “They have wasted an enormous amount of taxpayers’ money to get to this point.

“It was turning into a white elephant.

“The Home Office has just lied to us from the word go.

“They said the asylum seekers were coming in May, June, July, September but they have still not got anyone in.

“The whole thing could cost more than the money the Home Office would have spent on housing them in hotels.

“They have not only had to fund setting up the site but they also have to hand it back to the Ministry of Defence in the same condition as it was when it was handed over to them.”

The Home Office had originally used “emergency powers” to permit itself to house asylum seekers on the airbase until April this year.

A High Court judge ruled in December last year that the plans to use both RAF Scampton and RAF Wethersfield in Essex as asylum seeker accommodation were lawful after both WLDC and Braintree District Council (BDC) took legal action.

WLDC is appealing against that judgment and has served an enforcement and a stop notice on the airbase, which restricts the Home Office from working on the site.

BDC has also previously said it was seeking permission from the High Court to appeal.

The Home Office is also appealing over the enforcement and stop notices.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We remain committed to housing asylum seekers at Wethersfield and Scampton, and will manage occupancy at the sites while prioritising welfare and integration.

“We are working closely to listen to the local communities’ views and reduce the impact of these sites, including through providing onsite security and financial support.”