West Berkshire Council to hear Atomic Weapons planning application

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West Berkshire Council will make a decision on Wednesday 8 February on whether to grant planning permission for construction of a new Technology Development Centre at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston.

The planning application will be discussed by the Council's Eastern Area Planning Committee, which has considered a number of previous planning applications at Atomic Weapons Establishment sites.  Council officers are recommending that planning permission for the development should be granted.

The Technology Development Centre is part of the UK's contribution to a joint UK – France warhead research programme known as 'Project Teutates'.  The Centre will develop radiographic instrumentation for monitoring and analysing the results of hydrodynamics research experiments which will be conducted at a new joint research facility at Valduc in France.  The Aldermaston and Valduc facilities are both scheduled to commence operation in 2015.

As is usual for planning applications submitted for AWE sites, information necessary to judge the risks posed by the development has been withheld from the public.  A direction issued by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government allows the Ministry of Defence to submit a limited environmental appraisal document to the local planning authority instead of undertaking a full environmental impact assessment.

The Technology Development Centre will design giant high power flash X-Ray machines for taking high speed photos of changes in materials during experiments which mimic the behaviour warhead components and mock-ups during a nuclear explosion.  AWE has developed considerable expertise in such technology, based on Inverted Voltage Adder equipment, over many years of hydrodynamic research using existing facilities at Aldermaston.

The planning committee meeting is open to the public and will take place at the Calcot Centre, Highview, RG31 4XD commencing at 6.30 pm on Wednesday 8th Feburary 2012.