Despite policies against allowing residential development within the detailed emergency planning zone of Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) sites, West Berkshire Council have given planning permission for conversion of a car showroom into six homes at a site within the AWE Burghfield emergency zone.
The site, at James Farm, James Lane, Grazeley Green, is just 350 metres away from the AWE Burghfield site boundary.
Planning permission was given despite advice from the AWE Off-Site Emergency Planning Group, which represents emergency services which would have to deal with any incident at the nuclear site, that the proposed development would have an “adverse effect” on an emergency response.
The Group warned that the proposal would result in at least 15 people in the dwellings, and if there was a need for an immediate evacuation “significant additional resources” would be required to move them from the emergency area. Should the site be contaminated by radioactive material following an accident, local authorities might have to arrange alternative accommodation requirements for residents over a long period.
Despite the advice, the Council's planning committee decided that the proposal “would not impact on the safe implementation o the AWE off-site emergency response plan in the event of an incident occurring”.
The Office for Nuclear Regulation, which has policy to object against sensitive developments within the detailed emergency planning zone at nuclear licensed sites, did not lodge an objection to the development.