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Drone photos show new asylum detention centre where up to 2,000 migrants will be housed at historic home of the Dambusters – after local fury at Home Office decision to transform RAF Scampton


Aerial photos taken today show the new asylum detention centre at the former home of the Dambusters HQ where 2,000 migrants could be housed, amid the Home Office being hit with a legal notice to halt work. 

Rows of portable cabins have been placed on RAF Scampton’s airfield, in Lincolnshire, with diggers seen parked up inside the temporary metal fencing alongside neat rows of wooden crates, stacked pallets, and ring-fenced building materials.

The Home Office wanted the huge detention centre at the former Red Arrows base to be full by Christmas, according to residents, but has faced fierce criticism from locals with a campaign group being backed by Conservative MP and former defence committee member Sir Edward Leigh. 

West Lindsey District Council (WLDC) served a notice in September on the Home Office to halt work which also ordered the site to be returned to its original condition. 

But it was ‘inundated’ with evidence work was continuing, although it is understood this has now stopped. A judicial review over the proposals are set to be heard on October 31. 

The Home Office is currently having to dish out £8million a day on hotel bills to accommodate migrants and argue large accommodation sites are needed to slash the ‘unacceptable’ cost. 

First aerial photos show portable cabins placed on the airfield at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, amid the Home Office being hit with an order to halt work on the site

First aerial photos show portable cabins placed on the airfield at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, amid the Home Office being hit with an order to halt work on the site

Some 1,500 migrants would be housed at the former Red Arrows base but the proposals have been met with fierce opposition from locals, historians, and the MP for the area

Some 1,500 migrants would be housed at the former Red Arrows base but the proposals have been met with fierce opposition from locals, historians, and the MP for the area

Rows of portable cabins have been placed on the airfield with diggers seen parked up inside the temporary metal fencing alongside neat rows of wooden crates, stacked pallets, and ring-fenced building materials

Rows of portable cabins have been placed on the airfield with diggers seen parked up inside the temporary metal fencing alongside neat rows of wooden crates, stacked pallets, and ring-fenced building materials

It comes as the first asylum seekers returned to the Bibby Stockholm today, two months after the barge was evacuated following the discovery of the deadly bacteria Legionella. 

The 617 Squadron, known as The Dambusters, was formed at the airfield and famed for its mission in May 1943 by 19 Lancaster bombers to destroy three dams in the Ruhr Valley – Germany‘s industrial heartland – with ‘bouncing bombs’.

WLDC said work to prepare the site – which included moving in accommodation blocks – had broken rules over listed buildings and archaeology when it served the order last month

It said the breaches related to the installation of fences, ‘intrusive’ surveying works, groundworks and connections to utilities which had ‘the potential to cause irreversible damage to important heritage assets’. 

Sir Edward, the MP for Gainsborough, lashed out at the Home Office for not complying with the order when it was issued although he said he understood work had now stopped. 

He wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on October 4: ‘I understand from @WestLindseyDC that the Home Office have informed them they are now complying with the stop notice. 

‘I have repeatedly urged them to do so. Let’s hope they are fully compliant but they should have complied from the start the moment it was issued.’

The local authority had been ‘inundated’ with information from local residents sharing evidence of the work still continuing to take place. 

A WLDC spokesperson said this was backed up by council officers who visited the site on October 13 when they witnessed an increase in the number of portable buildings on the site. 

The 617 Squadron, known as The Dambusters, was formed at RAF Scampton and famed for its mission in May 1943 by 19 Lancaster bombers to destroy three dams in the Ruhr Valley

The 617 Squadron, known as The Dambusters, was formed at RAF Scampton and famed for its mission in May 1943 by 19 Lancaster bombers to destroy three dams in the Ruhr Valley

The 617 Squadron ¿ the Dambusters ¿ was formed at the airfield, from where 19 Lancaster bombers departed for the famous raid in 1943 to destroy three dams in the Ruhr valley. Pictured: 617 Squadron led by 24-year old Wing Commander Guy Gibson (in aircraft door)

The 617 Squadron – the Dambusters – was formed at the airfield, from where 19 Lancaster bombers departed for the famous raid in 1943 to destroy three dams in the Ruhr valley. Pictured: 617 Squadron led by 24-year old Wing Commander Guy Gibson (in aircraft door)

Special 'bouncing bombs' (seen here slung below the aircraft) were used in the raid

Special ‘bouncing bombs’ (seen here slung below the aircraft) were used in the raid

The main entrance to RAF Scampton, an iconic airbase in Lincolnshire that was once home to the Dambusters and more recently the Red Arrows

The main entrance to RAF Scampton, an iconic airbase in Lincolnshire that was once home to the Dambusters and more recently the Red Arrows

A man wears a Rishi Sunak mask and holds a sign carrying the Morse code for 'SOS' outside RAF Scampton. Mr Sunak has made 'stopping the boats' a key Government pledge

A man wears a Rishi Sunak mask and holds a sign carrying the Morse code for ‘SOS’ outside RAF Scampton. Mr Sunak has made ‘stopping the boats’ a key Government pledge

The Red Arrows practising in the skies over Scampton. They are now based at RAF Waddington

The Red Arrows practising in the skies over Scampton. They are now based at RAF Waddington

The Home Office said it was ‘carefully considering’ the notice’s implications and said it was ‘inappropriate to comment further at this time’. 

Sir Edward previously wrote to Rishi Sunak calling on the Prime Minister to step in on his government department acting ‘illegally in disobeying a stop order’. 

In his letter to the PM on September 27, Sir Edward called on the Home Office to act ‘honourably’ while also arguing the value-for-money case for housing migrants at Scampton ‘had been blown out of the water’.

The Dambusters HQ had been touted as the North’s ‘biggest regeneration and levelling up project’ after a £300million deal was struck in March to bring aviation, space, education and hospitality industries to the site – creating thousands of jobs.

Plans for the makeshift asylum detention centre blasted those plans into disarray and was met with fury from locals and historians.

Prominent historian James Holland blasted the plans in March and said: ‘Obviously, refugees need to be housed but why there?

‘Where there are listed buildings, so much heritage, and where there are such brilliant development plans in place and where such a plan is so desperately needed.

‘It’s absolutely insane. A desecration. And in the 80th anniversary year of the Dams Raid? Has this Govt gone totally mad???’

The Dambusters: How bouncing bombs flooded the Ruhr and delivered a crucial blow to Hitler

On May 16, 1943, 19 Lancaster bomber crews gathered at a remote RAF station in Lincolnshire for a mission of extraordinary daring – a night-time raid on three heavily defended dams deep in Germany’s industrial heartland.

The dams were heavily fortified and needed the innovative bomb – which bounced on the water over torpedo nets and sank before detonating.

To succeed, the raiders would have to fly across occupied Europe under heavy fire and then drop their bombs with awesome precision from a mere 60ft above the water. 

The Mohne and Eder Dams in the industrial heart of Germany were attacked and breached by mines dropped from specially modified Lancasters of No. 617 Squadron.

A Lancaster Bomber on a commemorative flight in 1967 to mark the anniversary of the Dambusters raid that breached the Mohne and Eder dams

A Lancaster Bomber on a commemorative flight in 1967 to mark the anniversary of the Dambusters raid that breached the Mohne and Eder dams

The Sorpe dam was was also attacked by two aircraft and damaged.

A fourth dam, the Ennepe was reported as being attacked by a single aircraft (O-Orange), but with no damage.

Up to 1,600 people were estimated to have been killed by floodwaters and eight of the 19 aircraft dispatched failed to return with the loss of 53 aircrew and three taken prisoner of war.

Wg Cdr Guy Gibson, Officer Commanding No. 617 Sqn, is awarded the VC for his part in leading the attack.

The raid, orchestrated by Guy Gibson and the RAF’s 617 ‘Dambuster’ Squadron, was seen as a major victory for the British, and Wing Commander Gibson is recognised as one of the war’s most revered heroes.

Their success was immortalised in the classic 1955 film The Dambusters, its thrilling theme tune and gung-ho script evoking the best of British derring-do.

Wg Cdr Gibson was killed at the age of 26 when his Mosquito plane crashed during a night-time sortie over Germany.  



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