Campaigners criticise A34 convoys





Date published: Monday 28 November 2005
Campaigners criticise A34 convoys

by Giles Sheldrick

Peace campaigners at a rally in Oxford vowed to keep up the pressure on the Ministry of Defence to decommission Trident nuclear weapons. On Saturday, campaigners in

Broad Street

collected 300 signatures for a national petition calling on the Government to scrap the weapons system and abandon plans for its replacement. Campaigners took photographs of a convoy carrying Trident warheads passing Botley on the A34 earlier this month. Oxford city councillors last month resolved to write to the Ministry of Defence protesting about the convoys passing the outskirts of the city.

Another letter was sent to John Kelly, Oxfordshire County Council's emergency planning officer, asking him to demand to be told when these convoys pass through or near Oxford. Convoys of nuclear weapons travel about six times a year between the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Burghfield, in Berkshire, and the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport, in Scotland, where the warheads are prepared for use in the submarine-launched Trident missile system. The warheads contain plutonium and other radioactive materials.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) spokesman Gawain Little said: "These weapons are immoral, illegal and a waste of money. The British Government is committed, under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, to nuclear disarmament and it's time for these commitments to be seen through." Mr Little said more than 200 people had turned out for the protest. He added: "The protest has been a real success and has kickstarted our campaign, which we will now build on. We have found that once people are given information they are incredibly supportive of our cause. "We want to send a clear message from the people of Oxford to say stop transporting these weapons on our roads, stop building them on our doorsteps and let's get rid of Trident once and for all." Among the speakers at the rally were Amanda Crawford, chairman of Oxford Youth and Student CND, and the Rev David Platt, co-chairman of Chrstian CND. Peace campaign and CND groups from Oxford, Abingdon and Kidlington also took part.



Date published: Monday 28 November 2005
Monday, November 28: How safe are we?

The prospect of highly volatile nuclear material being transported past our front doors is an unnerving one, to say the least. So protesters were right to turn out at the weekend to highlight the practice and demand that safer methods of moving it to be adopted. Whether or not their calls will be heeded is another matter. The fact is that nuclear material has been transported by road and rail through Oxfordshire — and in the face of frequent protests — for many years. During that time, the Government would no doubt point out, there has not been a single recorded incident which has endangered the public. That's no doubt true. But there is a first time for everything and we don't want it to be here. At the very least, we need a categorical assurance, backed up by hard evidence, that transporting nuclear material through our back yard is 100 per cent safe. Anything less than that simply will not do. Until that time, more power to the protesters' elbows.

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