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Legal challenge to RAF migrant plan gets go-ahead by High Court


Two councils opposing plans to house asylum seekers on disused airfields have been given the green light to bring a High Court challenge against the Home Office.

Braintree District Council and a nearby resident are bringing legal action to challenge the use of Wethersfield Airfield in Essex to house up to 1,700 men while West Lindsey District Council is challenging similar plans for RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

During a two-day hearing in London this week, the councils and Gabriel Clarke-Holland made a bid to bring a full legal challenge in their claims against the department.

In a ruling on Friday, Mrs Justice Thornton ruled in their favour, granting permission to both councils and Mr Clarke-Holland.

She said: "The decision to accommodate asylum seekers on the sites may give rise to strong local opinion," adding that there may also be wider discussions about the welfare of the asylum seekers.

"Those are not, however, matters for the court," the judge continued.

Mrs Justice Thornton said that two out of the 15 grounds could go ahead to a further hearing, including on the use of "emergency" planning powers. She said: "Both of these grounds were advanced by all three claimants."

The decision comes after the first 46 asylum seekers arrived at Wethersfield Airfield, around eight miles from Braintree, on Wednesday.

The High Court previously heard the planning law which would allow the airfields to be used covers the change of use of some Government land to prevent or mitigate an emergency which "threatens serious damage to human welfare".

The two councils and Mr Clarke-Holland have challenged the use of these planning powers, while the Home Office has said their use is justified. Both councils previously lost bids for injunctions preventing the use of the large sites by the Home Office.