West Berks Council - Response to AWE Planning Application for Proposed Laser Facility


19th September 2005

Clive Inwards

Senior Planning Officer

West Berkshire Council

Market Street

Newbury RG14 5DL

Dear Sir


Proposed development at Paices Hill, Aldermaston for AWE Aldermaston

The Nuclear Awareness Group which is based in Reading but has membership covering the Reading/Newbury/Basinstoke triangle as well as further afield, has asked me to oppose this application on the group`s behalf.

We are aware that the Council are not able to refuse planning permission, but are able to object. This would pave the way for a Public Inquiry, which our group believes to be the appropriate way to deal with this application in view of its national (and indeed, international) significance. This is not simply a local issue – it represents the establishment of a new facility designed to do much more than replace the existing laser, enabling further generations of nuclear warheads to be tested, before such an outcome has been debated in Parliament. Locally, new warheads means more radioactive discharges into the air and waterways.

I am also asked to draw to your attention the problem perceived by our members of disturbance of soil which is likely to have a degree of radioactive contamination, with off-site implications since the proposed development is so close to the boundary. The Environment Agency have already expressed concern over this possibility in relation to the recently proposed housing development at Paices Hill, which the Council wisely refused.

Visually, the proposed building would be very large and highly visible from the A340. Apart from aesthetic considerations, this would add to the existing problem that AWE is a potential target for terrorist activity.

In terms of traffic movement, we would point out that Paices Hill is already an accident black spot.

We would be grateful if the Planning Committee would consider these points, and seriously debate whether it might not be appropriate on this occasion to exercise the Council`s right to object to the proposal.

Yours sincerely

Evelyn Parker (Secretary)