AWE Planning Notice for the Laser and its Building
West Berks. District Council did not object to the planning notice from AWE at its meeting on 17th December 2003 despite massive opposition and a contrary legal opinion from David Wolfe, Matrix Chambers. His view was that the council should seek an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Although the proposal is principally for national defence purposes (and thus formally exempt from the EIA regulations), the Secretary of State for Defence has publicly committed the MOD not to rely on that exemption unless it is essential to do so. That commitment has legal effect.

Accordingly, if the proposal is a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 application within the meaning of the EIA regulations, then EIA is required. It is well-established that the wording of the schedules must be construed widely to give effect to the "wide scope and broad purpose" of the EIA directive (namely to ensure that projects which might have significant environmental effects) are subject to EIA. See thus, the decision of the European Court of Justice in Kraaijeveld v Gedeputeerde Staten van Zuid-Holland ECR [1996] I-5403, Case C-72/95 para 50.

The council has a series of meetings at which the plans may be considered again. WBDC Planning Committee has further opportunity to discuss the matter at the following meetings:


Case Number: 0302313OUT

Applicant Name: South East And Germany (B J Ritchie)
Application Address: Ministry Of Defence AWE Aldermaston Reading RG7 4PR
Agent Name:  
Agent Address:  
Proposal: DOE CIRCULAR 1884 – Proposed Laser Research facility – Outline Planning
Parish: Aldermaston Parish Council
Case Officer: Lisa Smith
Determination Type: Committee Decision
Decision Date: 17/12/2003
Planning Decision: Application not objected to NO FURTHER INFORMATION

For correspondence about this case: Lisa Smith, Planning Officer, WBDC, Market Street, Newbury RG14 5LD. planapps@westberks.gov.uk

AWE Burghfield
The planning approval for a new gas installation and electricity sub-station at AWE Burghfield was processed by officers without a committee hearing.

Case Number: 0302247FUL

Applicant Name: Defence Estates – B J Ritchie Senior Estate Surveyor
Application Address: Atomic Weapons Establishment Burghfield Reading RG30 3RP
Agent Name:  
Agent Address:  
Proposal: DOE Circular 1884 – Site Gas Installation. Erection of new gas meter housings packaged boiler houses and replacement electical substations.
Parish: Burghfield Parish Council
Case Officer: Tom Wyatt
Determination Type: Delegated
Officers Recommendation: Application not objected to
Decision Date: NO DATE GIVEN (Ed.)
Planning Decision: n/a

MoD Intentions
The published data on MoD intentions at AWE is to be found at:
http://www.awe.co.uk/main_site/scientific_and_technical/publications/pdf_reports/20885-sd-plan-update.pdf. AWE Updated Site Development Strategy Plan, September 2003

The main change to the programme of nuclear warhead transports from AWE Burghfield to RNAD Coulport in 2003 was the reduction from a 3-day to a 2-day journey. An overnight stop has been introduced at RAF Leeming with only a lunch break at RAF Wittering and no stop at all at Albermarle Barracks near Newcastle. As Leeming has no purpose-built facilities for the convoy, Nukewatch will be keeping an eye on building projects that might indicate a permanent use of this base for nuclear convoys. In the past, the MoD chose to travel only in daylight, but that priority has been traded against the reduction of a whole day's travel with convoys starting and ending journeys in the dark. Similarly, weekends were avoided but are now being used, despite more non-professional drivers being out and about. With less HGVs on the roads at weekends, it may be considered that security as well as logistic advantages are gained, since trucks and tankers are more noticeable and could be subject to security checks.

Special Nuclear Materials (SNM) convoys transfer weapons the six miles from Aldermaston to the final assembly plant at Burghfield. The number of these SNM journeys correlate with Scottish convoy runs carrying two warheads, suggesting that on average, two Trident warhead have been serviced every three months. This is just enough to keep skills levels up but hardly dents the publicly announced stockpile of around 190 warheads. Apart from an occasional new warhead being produced to replace those tested to destruction, this slow pace of activity should accelerate in future. Alternatively, a decision could have been made not to service all the warheads and to continue reducing the stockpile, currently thought to be around 185 warheads, although there may be far fewer.

In 2003 four convoys were laden in both directions, with one convoy going to Coulport empty, only bringing warheads back to AWE from Scotland. In addition to training runs and accident-response and security exercises, an empty convoy trip was made to keep "the business" running.

One weapons materials exchange with the Unites States took place in October via RAF Brize Norton, and one load was delivered from Harwell to AWE. Four SNM convoys took HEU to Rolls Royce Nuclear in Derby and one made the long-haul trip up the M6 to Sellafield, Chapelcross or Coulport.

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