NoPD for AWE laser facility to be resubmitted


The MoD has resubmitted its Notice of Proposed Development (NOPD) in respect of the proposed Laser Research Facility at AWE Aldermaston to West Berkshire District Council (WBDC) enclosing additional environmental information. It was received by WBDC during the last two weeks and has yet to be registered on their system, listed on their website or advertised in the Reading Chronicle1. It will be treated as a new Notification and the application will be considered in full, in accordance with the procedures detailed in the Department of the Environment Circular 18/84. There will be further opportunity to raise objections at that stage.3 The AWE project name, 'Orion', coined back in summer 2003 is, now in use.

WBDC Area Planning Committee Full Recommendation on the original application
Impact of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the area
It is acknowledged that given the size of the proposed building, it will have a visual impact, particularly from views into the site from the A340 at Paices Hill. However, when taken in context with the site surroundings and the fact it will be read against the backdrop of the many existing buildings at the AWE site, your Officers consider the visual impact will not be unduly harmful.2

Environmental Problems
At the December 17th hearing, Councillors asked the AWE Applicants if the building could be sunk into the ground. AWE refused, and implied that the building was already designed to be below ground to enable the10 lasers beams to surround the sample. This could be a problem in itself as there is a high water-table at the site. All the usual environmental problems of a nuclear site will apply to this proposal, although very little radioactive discharge is claimed for the normal running of the laser. The possible effects of a serious laser accident or destruction of the laser building are not known.

Legal Problems
Any additional environmental information from the MoD must be a full Environmental Impact Assessment.
Any additional high-risk procedure at this nuclear warhead production site is unreasonable, both for neighbours and for the local public protection authority.
The 5 feet thick walls of the laser building are to provide essential shielding, indicating that a dangerous procedure is to take place inside.

Provisional Time Scale
30th April The NOPD should be in the public domain: advertised in the Reading Chronicle, at the site and (not legally required) on WBDC website:

21st May End of Consultation / OBJECTION DEADLINE
23rd June Planning Committee Hearing and Decision

Procedure for making Objections (memories of exam. Questions!)
Write making objections to the plans now, marked:
AWE Development Application, shortly to be lodged
To Lisa Smith / Ian Pearson, Planning Officer
Market Street
Newbury RG14 5LD or &
Wait until you can include the Application Reference Number on the WBDC Planning Applications list for Aldermaston Parish, Thatcham or ring 01635 519111 x 2513 for Planning Officers Lisa Smith or Ian Pearson.
Prepare your letter and alert your letter-writing friends and colleagues now, posting your objection immediately you have the Reference Number.

The MoD are committed to providing more environmental information. WBDC will consult the Environment Agency (EA) and you may want to ask questions or to copy any letter of objection to the EA:
Darren Baker
EA Inspector for AWE
Howbery Park
OX 10 8BD


Case Number: unknown
Applicant Name: Defence Estates – B J Ritchie Senior Estate Surveyor
Application Address: Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston Reading RG37 4RP
Agent Name:  
Agent Address:  
Proposal: DOE Circular 1884 – Laser and building as listed in the AWE Site Strategy Plan
Application Valid Date:  
Weekly List Date: Unknown
8 Week Date: Unknown
Parish: Aldermaston Parish Council
Case Officer:  
Application Status: Sent from MoD but not yet registered, advertised or listed on West Berks website

1. Telephone conversation with WBDC Planning Officer on 22nd April 2004
2. Letter from WBDC, 11th Feb 2004
3. Report to Committee by WBDC officers, 17th December 2003

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