A street survey conducted by local environmental groups shows that a large majority of local people think that the proposed new Enriched Uranium Facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston should not be built.
Over the past six weeks NIS and other local groups concerned about the impacts of the Enriched Uranium Facility spoke to 550 people on the streets of towns and villages in the west of Berkshire to ask them for their views on the planned development.
Results from the survey showed significant levels of public concern about the project:
- Over 60% of those who were surveyed believed that the facility should not be built. Just 13% supported the development, with a quarter of those surveyed stating that they did not know whether it should be built or not.
- Despite AWE's claims that public consultation has been a key aspect in preparation of the planning application for the new facility, nearly three quarters of those asked had not heard about the project before being approached to complete the survey.
- Over 90% of respondents felt that information about environmental and safety impacts should be made publicly available before permission to build the new facility is given.
The street survey was carried out during December and January in Reading and the west of Berkshire to coincide with the period when the local planning authority, West Berkshire Council, was receiving comments from the public about the planning application. Passers-by were asked three questions about whether they had heard of the project; whether they thought the Enriched Uranium Facility should be built at Aldermaston; and whether they thought information about the environmental and safety impacts of the project should be made publicly available before planning permission is given (see full report below for details).
To date AWE has refused to provide West Berkshire Council with a full environmental impact assessment for the proposed development. Key information on risks to public safety, measures for protecting the public, and waste products generated by the facility have been omitted from the 'Defence Exempt Environmental Appraisal' provided instead by AWE.
Over 900 objections to the planning application are currently shown on West Berkshire Council's planning applications website, and the Council has said it will continue to receive comments informally after the closing date for feedback.
Nuclear Information Service Director Peter Burt said: “Common sense says that information about the hazards faced by public should be published before a development of this nature is given the go-ahead, and, quite reasonably, a large majority of people feel that we should be told more about the risks we will face from the Enriched Uranium Facility.
“We live in a modern democracy, and it is unacceptable for AWE to take this high-handed approach and say that the public should not be allowed to know about the threats that the new facility poses to them.
“West Berkshire Council should pay careful attention to the results of this survey, and should not grant planning permission for the Enriched Uranium Facility until adequate information about safety and risks is provided by AWE.”
Read the full results of the survey here: