Dambusters home to be saved from migrant camp

Only 10pc of RAF Scampton to house migrants as home of 617 Squadron to become national heritage site

Tech&Science May 30, 2024 /idopress/

One of the famous Dambusters crews on the grass at RAF Scampton

Credit: IWM/Getty Images

The Dambuster squadron’s historic airfield is set to be saved for the nation after the Home Office abandoned a plan to turn the whole site into an asylum camp.

Under a deal with the local council,the Home Office will only use 10 per cent of the former RAF base to house asylum seekers.

The district council behind the plan to save RAF Scampton,in Lincolnshire,revealed on Tuesday that it had reached agreement with the Home Office to share use of the site,which was also home to the Red Arrows.

Council chiefs believe it could pave the way for them to go ahead with their £300m plan to preserve the base’s historic runway as an operational aviation and aerospace hub and a new national heritage site.

The Home Office has agreed to more than halve the number of asylum seekers that it intends to house on the former RAF base from 2,000 down to 800,with 90 per cent of the site handed over to West Lindsey district council.

Protestors fly the flag for the Dambusters outside RAF Scampton

Credit: Martin Pope/Getty Images

Two listed hangars,the listed officers’ mess and the grave of Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s dog’s will be transferred to West Lindsey District Council once a legal agreement is in place,with the remaining listed hangars being transferred in 2026.

The agreement also allows the council to use its portion of the land to pursue its regeneration of the site with its development partner Scampton Holdings.

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 in Germany’s industrial heartlands with “bouncing bombs” designed by the renowned engineer Barnes Wallis.

Forty historians including Sir Antony Beevor,Sir Max Hastings and Dan Snow wrote to the Home Office,describing plans to use the historic site as an asylum camp would be an act of “cultural desecration”.

The Guy Gibson Lancaster bomber on the 24th anniversary of the destruction of the Mohne and Eder Dams in Nazi Germany

Credit: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

“To erase Scampton’s heritage,rather than preserve,protect and enhance it further,would be a scandalous desecration of immeasurable recklessness,” they said.

Trevor Young,leader of West Lindsey district council,said: “This agreement paves the way forward for the short-term and long-term use of the site.

“The council has always been clear that whilst it is our view that the site is unsuitable for large-scale asylum accommodation,protecting the investment and regeneration plans for the site is a priority.

“This agreement provides the principles by which we can collaborate to unlock our investment and regeneration plan by working with the Home Office through a shared use proposal.”

The Home Office has committed to working with the council and Historic England to protect the heritage of the Dambusters’ former home.

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