Thanks to Peter for this update on the AWE expansion plans:
As you may have heard by now, West Berkshire Council have now made a decision on the planning application submitted by AWE to build a new nuclear warhead assembly / dissasembly facility at AWE Burghfield.
To no-one's great surprise, the planning committee decided to grant permission to allow the development to go ahead. The planning committee have been very pro-AWE when considering previous planning applications submitted by the company, and this week was no exception. The Council officers seemed desperate to push the application through as fast as possible and the councillors on the committee seemed to be more interested in the surfacing for a new pathway that is to be built along
Burghfield Road than in the problems associated with the development itself. Only one member of the committee voted against allowing the new nuclear factory to be built at Burghfield.
The points we made about flood risks, public safety and populations numbers in the protection zones around the development, and the failure of the committee to hear evidence from Reading Borough Council were all ignored by the committee. However, although we lost the vote we won the arguments hands down. There was massive press interest in the issue - solidly on our side - and one journalist told us "I've been covering AWE stories for 20 years and have never seen this level of opposition to a
development there before". This looks set to translate into further public distrust of AWE.
We are currently investigating the possibilities of putting pressure on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Hazel Blears)to call the development in for a public inquiry. Rob Wilson, Martin Salter, and Caroline Lucas have already written to Hazel Blears asking for an inquiry. If you are able to help in contacting other local MPs (Theresa May, John Redwood, Richard Benyon, or MPs further afield in Basingstoke and Bracknell) please get in touch with me.
We will have another opportunity to put a spanner in the wheels of new development at AWE Aldermaston in a few weeks time when a new planning application is submitted for an enriched uranium facility at AWE Aldermaston. This will be an even bigger development than the one at Burghfield, raising a whole new set of safety and environmental risks. If you would like to help un the campaign against this new uranium facility please contact me to let me know.
Finally, a very big thank you to everyone who helped with this campaign by signing letters of objection; collecting signatures; visiting MPs, speaking at meetings, or in any other way.