The British government will announce plans next week to house migrants on disused ferries and at military bases, as it attempts to move away from the previous government policy of using hotel accommodations, which is currently costing the U.K. taxpayer more than £7 million per day.
The new policy will initially relate to all new arrivals into Britain with the intention to relocate the more than 51,000 residents of 395 hotels across the country at a later date.
The U.K. Home Office reportedly opted in favor of the proposed accommodation options over the use of holiday camps and student halls, which had also been considered.
The location of the air bases and disused ferries to become migrant housing has yet to be confirmed, along with the estimated cost for their usage.
One military base being proposed is RAF Scampton, the Lincolnshire air base and famous home to the 617 Squadron — better known as The Dambusters — who conducted perilous air raids on key German infrastructure during World War II. Use of the site to house migrants arriving illegally in Britain has faced strong opposition from local residents, politicians and academics.
More than 40 historians recently penned an open letter expressing their anger at the move. “To erase Scampton’s heritage, rather than preserve, protect and enhance it further, would be a scandalous desecration of immeasurable recklessness,” the letter read.
The move would inevitably result in the scrapping of a previously proposed, £300 million plan to transform the recently vacated base into a heritage site.
A petition against the government plan, which had been signed by more than 45,000 people at the time of this writing, says the British government’s “hastily trailed plan to turn Scampton into an immigrant detention camp appears ill-thought through,” and reminds the Home Office that Scampton is a village of just over 1,000 people without the facilities or public services necessary to accommodate such a large influx of people.
A Home Office spokesperson said of the plan: “We have always been upfront about the unprecedented pressure being placed on our asylum system, brought about by a significant increase in dangerous and illegal journeys into the country. We continue to work across (the) government and with local authorities to identify a range of accommodation options.
“The government remains committed to engaging with local authorities and key stakeholders as part of this process.”