1400 objectors, 0 supporters: West Berkshire Council grants planning permission to AWE

Despite receiving over 1400 letters of objection, West Berkshire Council has decided to grant planning permission to the Atomic Weapons Establishment for a new Enriched Uranium Facility.

Last night’s Eastern Area Planning Committee meeting agreed to give permission for the controversial development to go ahead in the face of public concern about a lack of consultation and inadequate information about the risks it poses to the public and the environment.  Just one committee member – Liberal Democrat councillor Alan Macro – voted against the proposal.

A street survey undertaken by NIS and other local environmental groups showed that 61% of local people thought that the development should not be permitted to go ahead, and 92% felt that more information about the potential risks associated with it should be released before planning permission was granted.

NIS Director Peter Burt said: "It’s disappointing but not surprising that this development was permitted given the very close relationship between West Berkshire Council and AWE.

"It’s particularly discouraging that the Council was willing to condone AWE’s woeful lack of consultation over a major industrial development.  The planning application was submitted just before the Christmas holiday period and no attempt was made to engage with members of the public to explain the need for the development.  The inescapable conclusion is that AWE wished to avoid debate and scrutiny of a planning application that it knew many local people would be concerned about.

"West Berkshire Council likes to pretend that planning applications submitted by AWE are treaed the same as those submitted by anyone else, but no-one else would be allowed to submit a planning application for a factory handling radioactive substances and hazardous chemicals without giving a copper-bottomed explanation of how they intend to manage the risks and guarantee safety."

Concerns about consultation standards were raised in many of the objections to the planning application, and also by neighbouring Basingstoke and Deane and Reading Borough Councils.

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