Proposal: DOE Circular 18/84 Laser research facility (Orion) 05/02003/RESMAJ
Meeting Goes Ahead without Documents
The date of the Planning Meeting has now been fixed for 23rd November, despite documents promised by AWE still not being available to officers, councillors, the Environment Agency or the public in time for their consideration before the meeting. In addition, some councillors are concerned that the committee should wait to consider any government announcement concerning the future work at AWE. The Notice is not an “application” since the Council, through its Planning Committee, cannot approve or refuse such government plans. But the council may raise objections or inform the MoD that the council has objections.

Planning Officer’s Report to Committee
The Agenda for the planning committee meeting is now on West Berks Website at:



Apart from five Appeal hearings, the AWE plan is the only proposal for consideration. The Recommendation to Councillors says:

“The Head of Planning and Transport Strategy be authorised to raise no objections to the Notice of Proposed Development for a replacement laser research facility.”

The Officer’s report lists Objections under “Correspondence”
“As at 10/11/05, 224 letters of objection received, together with 4 petitions containing 59 signatures from addresses in Sweden, 20 signatures from the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom and 28 signatures from residents of the Permanent Travellers Site on Paices Hill. The majority of the responses received comprise a standard letter which set out 6 main grounds of objection:

The Officer’s report lists Objections under “Correspondence”:
1. The laser facility is a major £20 million development which forms part of AWE’s Site Development Strategy Plan and as such should not be considered in isolation. No overall Environmental Impact Assessment for the site as a whole has been carried out. This is contrary to the resolution of the Eastern Area Planning Committee meeting on 23rd February 2005 which resolved that the Ministry of Defence should provide an environmental assessment of all of the developments taken as a whole;
2. It will have a major negative impact on the character and appearance of the area given the size of the proposed building;
3. It will have a massive impact on traffic and no overall Transport Strategy has been provided;
4. A dangerous procedure is to take place inside and any additional high-risk procedure at this nuclear warhead production site is unreasonable, both for neighbours and for the local public protection authority;
5. There could be accidental discharge of radioactive particles and the possible effects of a serious laser accident are not known; and
6. This proposed development is part of a major defence project, is not a local issue and should be referred to the Secretary of State.
7. The standard letter ends by calling for a Public Inquiry.

Separate letters have also been received from the Green Party, the Nuclear Awareness Group and the Nuclear Information Service which reiterate and amplify the above points. Specifically the letter from the Nuclear Information Service provides detailed objections relating to the siting being too close to the boundary, the ‘bizarre’ design of the building and the external appearance which would dominate the landscape and the neighbouring rural community. [This list appears to be incomplete since many objectors raised points not included in this report. Ed]

Committee members do not see the Objections sent to the Council unless they go to the Newbury offices and look on the AWE Planning File. Members usually rely on reference to Objections in the Officer’s Report.

Whole Site Environmental Impact Assessment
AWE has promised to supply the Planning Committee with an EIA on several occasions but to date nothing has been published. The Officer’s Report says:

“With regard to an Environmental Impact Assessment being provided for the site as a whole, the Local Planning Authority wrote to the Ministry of Defence on the 17th March 2005 to request a comprehensive Environmental Statement in respect of all proposals in the Site Development Strategy Plan as published by AWE. At a meeting in August 2005, the Ministry of Defence advised that a Site Development Plan and Strategic Sustainability Appraisal were currently being put together and that this would need to be cleared by the MoD in September. It is anticipated that these documents will have been released by the time of the Committee meeting.”

Planning Officer’s Report is at:


Public Participation
The public may attend and objectors may register a wish to speak. Please contact NIS if you need directions to the meeting hall.

The Notice is not an “application” since the Council, through its Planning Committee, cannot approve or refuse such government plans. But the council may raise objections or inform the MoD that the council has objections.

Applicant: MoD Estates Blandford House Aldershot GU11 2HA Tel: 01252 361922
Contact: WBC Case Officer: Clive Inwards WBC Market Street Newbury RG14 5DL Tel: 01635-5191111

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