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That's the message anti-nuclear campaigners will be sending to the members of West Berkshire District Council Area Planning Meeting when they convene this week. On 23 June 2004, in a community centre in Thatcham (west Berkshire), the local planning committee will determine whether an application by the Ministry of Defence to enable the Atomic Weapons Establishment to build a huge laser facility at Aldermaston, should be rubber stamped as "passed" or referred to central government (at which point it may be determined that a public inquiry should be held).


Anti-nuclear, environmental and human rights activists and campaigners are calling on West Berkshire District Council to "do the right thing", arguing that decisions of such importance should not be made by default and at such a local level, but after a full and transparent national debate. Something which can only take place if a public inquiry is instigated. As planning committees are unable to reject MoD planning applications outright (under DoE circular 18/84), the only way to ensure the proposal to build a new series of nuclear weapons production infrastructure is discussed at all, is for the council to refer the decision to central government with a request for a public inquiry. AWPC urge the predominantly Liberal Democrat planning committee to heed the words of Menzies Campbell MP - Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson - when, commenting on developments at AWE, he called for parliament to be consulted ?before embarking on expenditure of this size on an issue of such political controversy?



1. The proposed laser facility is the first application made by the MoD as part of a massive site development strategy plan (AWE have removed the original and updated public SDSP documents from their website, but you can read a little about it in their 2002 annual report at

2. DoE Circular 18/84 Crown Land and Crown Development Part IV This commits the Government to consult planning authorities before proceeding with a development that would otherwise require planning permission. The MoD do this by sending in a ?Notice of Proposed Development? which the authority then treats broadly speaking like an ordinary planning application but it has no power to refuse consent. ?In any case where strong objections are received ?the ?authority must decide whether? they should be supported?? (para 21) If the authority objects, the MoD must notify the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions which seeks to resolve the dispute and can set up a non-statutory inquiry.

3. For various comment, opinion and factual updates on plans for AWE, see:

4. Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp(aign) (AWPC) is calling for a silent vigil outside the Thatcham council offices, from 6pm on 23 June. The messages we want to communicate are: - to remember the nuclear dead and the seriousness of issues at stake - to call on the planning committee to make the best decision for democratic process - to support WBDC in making the right decision This is a mixed gender and explicitly nonviolent event. AWPC invites everyone to attend, make their opposition to the "decision by default process known and their support for WBDC to "do the right thing" and refer the decision back to central government.

5. Location: WBDC Area Planning Meeting, 6.30pm Wednesday 23 June, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Bradley Moore Square (off Hart's Hill Rd, nr junction with Floral Way), Thatcham, Near Newbury online map