William Eichler 30 March 2023

Councils criticise plans to house refugees on RAF bases

Councils criticise plans to house refugees on RAF bases image
Image: Sean Aidan Calderbank / Shutterstock.com.

Unused military sites will be used to house asylum seekers who enter the UK illegally on small boats despite local opposition, the Government has confirmed.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick yesterday confirmed the Government would go ahead with plans to use RAF Scampton and RAF Wethersfield to house refugees.

He said this would be a ‘cheaper’ alternative to using hotels, which the Home Office estimates costs £6m a day.

West Lindsey District Council said they had put measures in place to take legal action against the Home Office as the council had planned to use RAF Scampton for a £300m regeneration scheme.

Sally Grindrod-Smith, director of Planning, Regeneration and Communities at West Lindsey DC said the local authority was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the decision.

Braintree District Council confirmed they were exploring all legal options to stop the use of RAF Wethersfield.

‘It is extremely disappointing that concerns raised by us and the local community have not been taken on board,’ said a statement from the council.

‘Our view remains that Wethersfield Airfield is an unsuitable site, given the lack of capacity in local services, its isolated location, the size of the site, and the fact that the scale of the development proposed could have a significant adverse impact upon the local community.’

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said: ‘Delivering accommodation on surplus military sites will provide cheaper and more orderly, suitable accommodation for those arriving in small boats.

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

The Home Office is also in talks with the owners of Portland Port to site floating accommodation for asylum seekers.

Bill Reeves, chief executive of the port, said: 'Portland Port has been selected by the Home Office to provide space for an accommodation facility.

'We are currently liaising with the Home Office about the next steps.'

Dorset Council said they had ‘serious concerns’ about the use of the port and noted that they had ‘limited input’ and ‘no decision-making powers’ on this.

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