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AWE Aldermaston: campaigners call on councillors to do the right thing

Local campaigners, with national and international support, are urging local councillors not to support Ministry of Defence plans for the building of a new laser facility at AWE Aldermaston. West Berkshire Councillors are due to meet at the Calcott Centre on the outskirts of Reading on Wednesday 23rd November at 6.30, to discuss proposals submitted by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the construction of £20 million laser facility, which is capable of replicating the conditions of a nuclear explosion. Aldermaston Women\'s Peace Campaign (AWPC) are calling on the councillors not to support the Notice of Proposed Development (NoPD) submitted by the MoD. \"The laser is the first in a series of new facilities which will enable AWE to design, test and build a new generation of nuclear weapons\", said AWPC, \"Yet, according to John Reid, Minister of Defence, the decision to go ahead with a replacement for the UK\'s Trident nuclear weapons system has not yet been made. We\'re urging West Berkshire councillors not to support plans for the laser until a decision on the UK\'s nuclear weapons has been made in parliament, following the public debate promised by John Reid in September\". According to West Berkshire Planning Department more than 200 objections to the application had been received, as well as four petitions from groups, including international organisations. AWPC also understands that some of the councillors on the planning committee are uneasy about supporting the proposal. The committee has no power to refuse a NoPD, but under the relevant legislation they can refer the application back to the Secretary of State, stating that they are unable to support the application. They may also ask the Secretary of State to open a public inquiry into the new developments. Objectors from AWPC and several other organizations will be attending the meeting on Wednesday evening: \"We just hope that the councillors will do the right thing\". Objections have been submitted to the planned laser on environmental grounds and on grounds that the application is in contravention of planning guidelines including: … That the laser is not, as described, a replacement but a major development and an entirely new facility some 1,000 times more powerful than the existing laser; … To AWPC\'s knowledge, a comprehensive Environmental Statement in respect of all proposals in AWE\'s Site Development Strategy Plan as requested by WBDC on 17th March 2005 has not been submitted by AWE.