Current AWE Planning Applications
Planning Decision on 23rd February 2005: West Berks. Council Planning Committee did not object to AWE’s Full NOPDs but voted to require AWE Development Plan to have an Environmental Impact Assessment
Planning Decision: No Objection
Planning No: 04/02977/FUL
Modular Office Accommodation at AWE
Work can now start on the three storey building to provide accommodation for up to 150 personnel near to the man entrance and screened from the A340 by mature trees.
Planning Decision: No Objection
Planning No: 04/02978/FUL
IT Service Stations at AWE
Work can now start on two one-storey blast resistant modules inside steel clad buildings to house IT Equipment. “Block the Builders” watchers have reported no signs of building to date.
What has happened to the Orion Laser Plan?
There are no outstanding Notices of Planning Development (NOPD) currently submitted to West Berks. Council by the MoD relating to AWE. It is now nine months since the Council decided to raise no objection to an Outline NOPD for the Orion Laser facility. No further progress is expected on this project unless a Full NOPD has been submitted and supported by the local planning authority. Although the Orion laser remains an option, delay in the project suggests either a change of MoD policy (as yet un-announced) or other difficulties. AWE scientists and technicians are working closely with counterparts at the American weapons’ Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California where the world’s largest and most energetic laser experimental system, the National Ignition Facility (NIF), is in operation There have been 180 visits to the United States by personnel from the Atomic Weapons Establishment during the 12 months ending January 2005. 29 US establishments were visited including the Nevada Test Site. Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.1 In the same period there were 128 visits by US personnel to the Atomic Weapons Establishment.
NIF began to be used at the end of 2003 and is clearly way ahead of the AWE proposed laser in time and size2. Given the ease of access for AWE to the super NIF the government may change its mind on funding a smaller replica in Britain, at least not until after the general election. However the BNFL-led consortium that manages Aldermaston, has already signed up to manage the laser and other new developments in its extended 25 year £billion contract.
Motion on AWE agreed by West Berkshire Council
Cllr. Sue Farrant’s proposal, seconded by Cllr. Geoff Findlay and endorsed by the full Council on 1st March 2005, reads as follows:
Atomic Weapons Establishments (Aldermaston and Burghfield) and the Euratom Treaty
This Council urges the UK Government to embrace the spirit of the Euratom Treaty and submit waste disposal authorisations which apply to the Atomic Weapons Establishments at Aldermaston & Burghfield to the European Commission for scrutiny under the provisions of the Euratom Treaty where this can be done without prejudice to national security interests. We believe that the scrutiny provided by the Euratom Treaty process can only enhance public confidence in the safety of both sites and this Council would welcome an assurance that the Government is committed to such openness.
In support of this motion, it is further proposed that copies of it be sent to:
- The Secretary of State for Defence
- The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- MPs and MEPs representing the West Berkshire Council area
- LGA – Special Interest Group on Nuclear Decommissioning and Radioactive Waste Management
- Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM)
Increased expenditure at AWE
The cost of running Aldermaston is set to rise from £300 million in 2003/4 to £312 million in 2004/53. At a time when reduced numbers of warheads are being serviced and only one or two are thought to be built annually to maintain skills and capability, the increase is not for production, unless the workforce have had six figure pay rises! Decommissioning is not reported to be at an increased rate this year. The new Liquid Waste Evaporator to replace the Pangbourne Pipeline came on stream this month, but the cost for that should have been met out of previous years’ budgets. That leaves Design and Development as the main candidate for increased expenditure. Further Parliamentary Questions may clarify the position.
2. Parliamentary Answers 22 February 2005. courtesy of BASIC
3. Parliamentary Answers 18 March 2005. courtesy of David Lowry. The Ministry of Defence's expenditure on AWE Aldermaston in each of the past five years is shown in the following table. All costs are at 2004–05 prices. The figure for 2004–05 is provisional. The allocation for 2005–06 has not yet been finalised.