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West Berks. Council has received the MOD's re-submission of a Notice of Planning for its proposed new laser facility at AWE Aldermaston. This is the first phase of a Strategy Development to enable tests to be carried out on nuclear weapons without recourse to underground testing.
The Nuclear Information Service is calling for a more thorough examination of the plans than can be achieved in the 21 days set by the Council for consultation; consulted bodies were given to 7th May to respond, and the public until 19 May, although these limits have been extended to 5th June.
"Given that this is a government project and not a normal Planning Application, Cabinet guidelines of 12 weeks minimum for consultation should be followed. A multi-million pound project involving nuclear weapons cannot be rushed through a planning subcommittee sitting in Thatcham. However diligent, councillors are not likely to be able to make a proper decision unless their officers take time to get the best advice and present an informed report. Our legal and scientific advice is that the time for consultation is wholly inadequate yet WBDC Planning Officer, Gary Lugg refuses to budge on this."
Di McDonald Nuclear Information Service
Details such as the length of the pulses from the 10 long-pulse beams, the length of the pulses from the two short-pulse beams and the power of each of the 12 beams are considered necessary in order to judge whether a site near a main road is appropriate.
"How can you comment on an environmental assessment of what if it doesn't tell you anything at all about the laser? "I believe that the MoD are in breach of their legal commitment to undertake an environmental assessment of this new project because of a fundamental failure to describe the proposed development. This prevents members of the public commenting, which is an inherent aspect of Environmental Assessment.
Professor Frank Barnaby Consultant Physicist