NIS UPDATE 28th February 2008
AWE HEFF Approved by Planning Committee
On Wednesday 6th February 2008, in the Calcot Community Centre, West Berkshire Council (WBC) Local Planning Authority (LPA) approved AWE Plans for a High Explosive Fabrication Facility at Aldermaston.
In the interests of openness and accountability, a change in planning law now requires the MoD to go through the planning system for building projects on MoD land. But this application achieved neither openness nor accountability since the key information was redacted from the application documents for national security reasons. The planning meeting was a charade and the obvious truth that the MoD does not need approval from a LPA for its activities was ignored. Everyone played their part in a village hall drama of no consequence.
WBC approve the High Explosives Facility HEFF plan for AWE Aldermaston despite objections that since the MoD applicant had withheld information, the LPA could not determine the application nor could its consultees make an assessment. The type and quantity of explosives and the processes to be undertaken in the building were withheld. The Environment Agency and HSE Nuclear Installations Inspectorate did not object and did not ask for extra information, nor did the Emergency Planning Officer.
AWE said that explosives would not be manufactured but 'manipulated' in the building. No mention was made of the actual regulating body with access to all the relevant information, the MoD’s Nuclear Weapon Regulator, who is the actual decision-maker.
Judicial Review of AWE Aldermaston Bylaws On Friday 1st February 2008 a crowd of women gathered outside the High Court in London holding up beautiful banners in support of the AWPC case against the AWE byelaws (2007). Barrister David Pievsky, on behalf of the Claimant was clear, concise, clever and persuasive. The MoD barrister did not appear very effective in his arguments, relying on the standing of the Secretary of State for Defence. Mr. Justice Walker thought it was nonsense to have a bylaw where someone hanging their coat on a fence on a hot day could be arrested and Lord Justice Kay asked that both barristers went straight into the case as a ‘rolled-up’ hearing, indicating that the case had merit, on his pre-reading of the papers. Judgment will be given after 2-3 weeks.