Future of RAF Scampton to be debated in Parliament

Sir Edward Leigh is to make the case for keeping RAF Scampton open at a debate in Westminster later today.

Red Arrows display at the Scampton Airshow 2017

The debate, which has been organised by the Gainsborough MP, follows a campaign and petition to keep to base open after the MOD announced in 2018 that they planned to close the base by 2022.

Sir Edward says the Red Arrows – which are based at RAF Scampton – have become part of our identity in Lincolnshire as much as the cathedral.

He said: “I believe the MOD is being short-sighted in not seeing the potential for this base as part of the country’s defence infrastructure, not to mention the Red Arrows’ need for uncrowded skies like ours.”

Sir Edward hopes the debate will show ministers that, “there is a very strong case for keeping the base open, or failing that, there is a lot more work that needs to go in to assuring a proper transition if the base closes.”

Lincoln MP, Karen Lee has been a vocal supporter of the campaign. She says she will be attending the debate but is doubtful that she will be able to speak: “I’ve registered to speak, but the reality is that I won’t be able to as such, but I will make an intervention.”

She added: “We really must try and keep the Red Arrows, I’m really not convinced that anyone other than me is trying to do that”, she added.

Red Arrows preparing for take-off at RAF Fairford 2017.

The debate comes after a campaign was launched by a group of locals focused on trying to persuade government and MOD to keep the base open. Save RAF Scampton and its Red Arrows launched a petition which last week failed to meet the target of 100,000 signatures required to secure a debate in parliament.

The petition – which received just over 20,000 signatures – was started by Lincolnshire resident, Paul Watts and was promoted by the Save RAF Scampton and its Red Arrows campaign.

Annette Edgar, the campaign’s founder said: “I am astounded at the lack of support for the petition, 750,000 people live in the county and we have only had 20,000 signatures which have come in from the whole country.

The closure of RAF Scampton will now receive a similar hearing thanks to Sir Edward’s debate.

The debate will be held in Westminster Hall between 4pm to 4.30pm, it’s available to watch live on Parliament TV, click here to watch.