NIS Update – AWE Burghfield PLANNING APPLICATION, 17th June Objection Deadline

Nuclear Information Service

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Southampton SO17 1DN Britain
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NIS UPDATE 2nd June 2008


Closing Date for Objections : 17thJune 2008

Application Reference: 08/00954/COMIND

Proposal: New Conventional Manufacturing Rationalisation facility (CMR), plus associated landscaping including sustainable drainage features. Disabled car parking, plus 20 cycle parking spaces, plus associated construction related infrastructure.

Expiry Date for Consultation:17/06/2008

Target Date: 26/08/2008

Committee Date: Not yet listed

This application, dated 27/05/08, is to amalgamate non-nuclear warhead manufacturing production from the AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield sites onto a new site near the back gate of AWE Burghfield. The Application says,

The planning application boundary also includes the Mearings, beyond the site fence-line between the AWE Burghfield Main Gate and the Reading Road. Currently, the proposed CMR construction site comprises predominantly a flat open grass area. The area has been subject to previous ground disturbance and is in part, made-up ground.”

The Application carries a Communities and Local Government Defence Exemption Direction, under the Town & Country Planning Regulations 1999. Signed by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Parmjit Dhanda, it states,

“…this Direction is justified because the development forms part of a project serving national defence purposes and compliance with these regulations would have an adverse effect on those purposes.”

This enables AWE to submit a 'Defence Exempt Environmental Appraisal 'instead of a formal Environmental Statement. The exempt information includes:

the precise details of design materials, quantities and environmental conditions for precision manufacture of simulants, exact replicas of weapon components to be used for research development and trials.” Para. 1.4 Supporting Statement

The MoD is fully prepared to enter into a planning obligation in accordance with Govt.Circular 05/2005 and WBC's supplementary planning guidance, should this be deemed to be necessary.” Para. 1.8 Supporting Statement

The Proposal

The 9,675 m2 for this facility is outside the Nuclear Licensed Site area, and key documents are the Design and Access Statement and the Planning Supporting Statement.

The former lists 'a stone-filled trench between the building and the former site-tip for passive ventilation of potential soil-gas'; the later lists the activities inside the buildings as …welding and brazing…environmentally controlled maching tool bay…ultra-high precision lathes…probe manufacture and assembly…heat treatment workshop (quenching and vacuum furnaces) …high precision testing…metrology – environmentally controlled area)…graphite and ceramics machining (environmentally isolated)…cleaning and degreasers…injection moulding and chemical mixing…quality assurance and inspection…machine tool maintenance…training facilities…ancilliary accommodation including stores for oil, chemicals, waste, materials and staff facilities.

Importantly, this is yet another 'tidying up' project, while the sub-standard Gravel Gerties (GGs) are not replaced and dis/assembly nuclear warhead work can only be done as each operation is separately licensed by the NII because of safety concerns.


The northern side of AWE Burghfield has been subject to severe flooding on many occasions in the past and particularly since July 2007. Could this plan to concrete over an existing grass area increase flooding in the GGs? Concern about flooding is likely to be expressed by the Environment Agency and objectors might like to send copies of objections to:

Environment Agency
Planning Consultations
Evenlode House,
Howberry Park
Oxon OX10 8BD

or Clive Inwards
WBC Planning Officer
Market Street
Newbury RG14 5 LD

NIS Report on live nuclear work stopped at AWE Burghfield
NIS worked closely with The Observer to report on AWE safety related problems in its 26th May half page article. The Newbury Weekly News is also covering the story and is aware of the related planning application issue.

Another Warning Letters to AWE

Last month NIS Updates reported that the Environment Agency sent AWE a warning letter in March, concerning the loss of a small radioactive source on a training exercise. In April, it was the turn of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) to issue a warning Improvement Notice on Operating Rules at both AWE sites at Burghfield and Aldermaston. Failure to comply with the request to improve matters listed in the warning notice, is an additional offence: if the rules are not improved, two offences will be committed. This would mean a hearing in Newbury Magistrates’ Court for AWEplc as the Nuclear Licensee. AWEML has no liability, unlike Hunting Brae in the1990s when it was prosecuted as both contract manager and licensee.

Support at the Trident Judicial Review Hearing on 10th June 2008

A preliminary hearing on the Judicial Review of Trident Replacement and the failed Consultation process will take place in the High Court, Strand, London at 10.30am on Tuesday 10th June. The case is being brought in the public interest by NIS, represented by Michael Fordham QC. Supporters can listen to the proceedings in the public gallery. To find the court number, ask at the inquiry desk for the NIS/McDonald v. MoD case, or gather outside the court at 0am. If possible, please let NIS know if you will be in Court, as we will probably be asked about seating numbers.

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