A council has lost its bid to secure a High Court injunction blocking the Government’s plans to use a former RAF airfield in Essex to house asylum seekers.

Braintree Council brought legal action over the proposed use of Wethersfield Airfield to accommodate up to 1,700 male asylum seekers for up to 180 days each.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD)-owned land was one of the sites identified when Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick unveiled plans last month to house asylum seekers in disused military bases to reduce reliance on hotels.

The local authority’s lawyers asked a judge to grant an injunction preventing the use of the 6.5-hectare site, arguing proposals would breach planning control.

The council rejected the Government’s argument that the need to accommodate more asylum seekers is an “emergency” under planning law.

The Home Office and MoD opposed the injunction, with Government lawyers asking for the case to be thrown out.

Giving a ruling in London on Friday, Mr Justice Waksman concluded that the court did not have the legal power to grant the council’s application, and therefore ruled in favour of the Government.

The judge said the Home Office estimated there were 109,000 asylum seekers – the highest number on record – in need of accommodation and support as of the end of last month.

That number includes 48,000 being housed in hotels, at a total cost of £6.2million a day.

The court heard on Wednesday that Home Office operational plans are based on scenarios of up to 56,000 small boat arrivals in 2023, which would take the number of people needing accommodation and support to between 120,000 and 140,000.

Paul Brown KC, for the Home Office, told the court a number of factors had contributed to issues around accommodating asylum seekers, including the impact of the Covid pandemic, the Afghanistan relocation scheme and war in Ukraine.

He argued the current situation amounted to an “emergency” as it risked people being left homeless and destitute, and the Government would be in breach of its duties to asylum seekers.