2002 STRATEGY PLAN
FOR THE ATOMIC WEAPONS ESTABLISHMENT (AWE) ALDERMASTON
AWE Site Development Strategy Plan
URGENT UPDATE 28th October 2003
Notice of Proposed Development
TWO NoPDs have been received by West Berkshire County Council (WBC) by 28th October 2003:
1: Replacement gas and electric supplies to AWE Burghfield, listed on the website at: http://ww2.westberks.gov.uk/_dbpages/planapps/xapp_details.asp?CASENO=0302247FUL
2: Outline Notice for the high-powered Laser and its building has been submitted to WBC according to the MoD. This will go on the WBC website soon.
Expected Timetable for NoPD
The Aldermaston NoPD is expected up on the web any day now, when a time scale will be listed. The dates concerning the upgrading of gas and electricity infrastructure at AWE Burghfield are listed date 27/10/03 and 8 week date 15/12/03.
Any objections need to be submitted – or repeated – immediately. WBC will prepare a report for the Planning Committee and unless the committee is convinced by objectors that it should return a decision of "refuse to comment.", it is likely to approve the plan within three months. NIS is seeking a written statement from WBC giving the earliest approval could achieve.
AWE Updated Site Development Strategy Plan, September 2003
The Update (1) says:
"We will be in a position in the near future to present Notices of Proposed Development (NoPDs) to the West Berkshire County Council (WBC) Planning Authority for:
1) The Conference Centre and Visitor's Centre
2) the Hydrodynamics facility."
3)Laser facility and building
4) Individual Materials Science facilities
Changes in the September 2003 Update from the July 2002 Plan include:
i. a commitment to maintain Trident for the next 20 years of its 30yr life expectancy
ii. to maintain Trident and a capability to design a Trident successor warhead – "an
immensely difficult task without conducting actual nuclear tests"
iii. exploring new areas of science
iv. to develop the skills and technologies that could provide the confidence
necessary to support any future arms limitation treaty.[ed. italics]
v. confirmation that Burghfield will remain the warhead assembly and disassembly
site for the future.
Staff at AWE are being offered a prize draw worth £200 to visit a virtual reality Exhibition of the new Hydrodynamics and Conference facilities.
Cost-cutting across the board
As a result of new links between staff at BNFL Sellafield, BNFL Risely and AWE on operational procedures using glove boxes, AWE is considering ordering box gloves from a French company in addition to its current supplier in the USA to save money (2).
"A90 and BNFL are looking at each other's standard safety equipment and methods of working….to make our operation as efficient as possible".
Operations Manager, Martin Desay
A photograph in the August copy of "AWE Today" illustrating this cooperation, shows two men and four women workers wearing long arm protective gloves, at least two of whom appear to be of child-bearing age.
A further cost cutting exercise concerns IT refresher courses for A90 workers. Instead of the trainer going into A90 as she previously did, A90 staff now do IT training in the Adult Learning Facility in another building. A major salary is being saved by the failure to appoint a replacement for Frank Winter, Infrastructure Director, who has returned to BNFL after three and a half years. His role is to be covered by the Head of Environment Programmes, Jonathan Brown. Perhaps the AWE bosses portrait smiles in "AWE Today" are intended to allay a deeper malaise, since Winter's departure coincides with that of Finance Director David Cooke, who only lasted six months before returning to Serco. His post is lost, by combining the finance department with the Commercial Directorate under Jason Smith (2). Savings of £50,000 made by AWEplc in the first quarter of 2003 have been put into the Partnership Share Scheme. David Rendel MP has consistently been concerned that safety could be compromised by cost cutting at AWE, after BNFL became part of the new management consortium in 2000.
AWE & US Cooperation in space weapons research
Five AWE engineers, expert in the manufacture of ballistic missile penetration aids from the Threat Reduction department and Systems Assessment Group, have spent three weeks with their US counterparts at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia coast. They were working with the US Missile Defense Agency on an Advanced Concept Flight Trial that involved launching several targets representing potential ballistic missile threat objects and collecting radar, optical and infrared data on each target (2).
"Just before dawn, the 60 ft long three-stage rocket….sen[t] theAWE & US payload
600 kilometres above the Atlantic Ocean". John Whitaker, Programme Manager
National Tritium User Group
The aim of a new Tritium Users Group is to:
"share best practice between tritium users and promote co-operation
into the research of new technology for handling tritium safely."
BNFL Chapelcross and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory now want to join the group that includes: BNFL Sellafield, AEA Technology, Amersham Biosciences, the National Physical Laboratory, UKAEA and the MoD (2).
AWE fund schools and disabled people
Prizes of £1,000, £500 and £250 were given by AWE to the winners from seventeen Hampshire & Berkshire Schools taking part the annual AWE schools Engineering Challenge. AWE donated £20,000 to The Hurst Community School in Baughurst in July and assisted the school in preparing its final bid for a £600,000 science grant from the Dept. for Science & Education.
"AWE are able to provide a number of services to schools within the local community including talks, IT advice, Risk Assessment advice and loan equipment.(3)" [Ed.emphasis]
Shopmobility in Basingstoke is reported to have approached AWE for £2450 to buy a shopping scooter. This has now been donated, together with a maintenance grant for 3 years. The Maple Ridge School has received an AWE commitment to pay the school minibus fuel bill for a year (3).
1. AWE September 2003 Update of its Strategy Plan is available in hard copy from 0118 982 4812/5602
2. AWE Today, August 2003
3. AWE webpage: http://www.awe.co.uk/main_site/about_awe/community.htm