June 2004 NIS Update

Due to a family bereavement, no NIS Update is available for June. The following press report is reproduced by kind permission from the Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp.


As West Berkshire District Council planning committee unanimously accepted the Ministry of Defence's proposal to build a state of the art laser facility at AWE Aldermaston, campaigners resolved to stop the development from going ahead.

At a meeting on 23 June, the planning committee, meeting in a community hall in Thatcham, agreed not to raise any objections to Aldermaston's plans to build a new laser, which forms a key part in a development plan to build the next generation of nuclear weapons at AWE Aldermaston.

The meeting, heard objections from representatives of the local Nuclear Awareness Group, Aldermaston Women's Peace Campaign (AWPC), the Nuclear Information Service and a local resident.

The committee had also received over 300 written objections, a petition signed by over 500 people – including local residents. However, these objections – including one signed by at least 30 people from the Old Stock Farm travellers site, less than 500 metres from the site of the proposed laser – appear to have been ignored, including by a local ward councillor who claimed that there had been no local objectors.

"The committee appeared to have few concerns about this development, beyond questioning the size of the building, and whether it could be hidden from view by some additional landscaping," AWPC commented, "We're not talking about building a conservatory here: this development has serious implications for both the environment and the local community." [1]

The committee declined to use their powers under Department of the Environment Circular 18/84, [2] which would have allowed them to refer the NOPD back to the Ministry of Defence, and may have resulted the establishment of a public inquiry by the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions [3].

"This NOPD has implications which go way beyond the scope and the life-span of this committee," said AWPC," West Berkshire has effectively given the go-ahead to the development of new nuclear weapons at Aldermaston – even before a decision to go ahead with a new nuclear weapons system has been debated in parliament".

AWPC will continue to oppose the new developments,"If we are unable to stop these developments through the planning and parliamentary processes, then we will call on other objectors to join us in non-violent action to "Block the Builders", and stop any construction work on the new laser building".


For further information, contact Aldermaston Women's Peace Campaign
07969 739 812






[1] Concerns raised by the objectors included:

– traffic increase (AWE estimate an 130 extra vehicles entering the site per day)
– noise pollution from construction works
– impact on groundwater
– managing polluted trade waste from the site during construction
– the visual impact of the 26m high building
– the lack of risk-assessment for the construction phase
– the weakness of the Additional Environmental Impact information supplied by AWE
– the close proximity to the local community (approx 500m from a long-established travellers' site, where an estimated 70 families currently reside)

[2]. DoE Circular 18/84 Crown Land and Crown Development Part IV
Under DOE Circular 18/84 the government is required to consult planning authorities before proceeding with a development that would otherwise require planning permission. The MoD is thus required to submit a Notice of Proposed Development to the local planning authority, which is treated like an ordinary planning application, except that the authority has no power to refuse consent.

In any case where strong objections are received "the authority must decide whether they should be supported",(para 21). The authority may, in such cases, refer or refuse to comment on the NOPD, and refer it to the originating department (in this case the MoD). It may then be referred to the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions which can then set up a non-statutory public inquiry.

[3]. In November 2001 a proposal to build a Tesco supermarket in Tadley,less than a mile from the proposed laser site, was called in for a public inquiry (The inquiry was abandoned when the supermarket giant withdrew its planning application). The disparity in concern between nuclear facilities and supermarkets raises serious questions. http://www.tadleyphotos.co.uk/tadley_roundabout/tesco_and_sainsbury_tadley.htm


The proposed laser facility is the first application made by the MoD as part of a massive site development strategy plan, see 2002 annual report at http://www.awe.co.uk/Images/annual_report_2002_tcm6-1762.pdf ).
The full SDSP and its updates has been removed from the AWE website.

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