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New warhead component facility at Burghfield - Object now!

Despite the appalling health and safety problems at Burghfield (see News), the MoD have submitted another application.

Closing Date for Objections: 17th June 2008.


ACTION ALERT New warhead component facility at Burghfield

Closing Date for Objections : 17th June 2008

Please take action against the next (and current) generation of nuclear weapons.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) have submitted (yet another planning application for a new warhead component manufacturing facilities at AWE Burghfield (brother site to AWE Aldermaston), where nuclear warheads for the current Trident submarine fleet are assembled and refurbished.

Last December, the planning authority received only 121 letters of objection to the MoD’s plans for a new High Explosives Fabrication facility (HEFF). These plans were approved by the planning committee in February 2008. Yet almost 5,000 people came to Aldermaston at Easter to protest against Trident renewal. We know that there are thousands of people out there who oppose nuclear weapons, and the replacement of Trident. The developments at Burghfield, along with other new buildings at Aldermaston, are part of a plan to equip both sites to build a new generation of nuclear weapons.

So please take the time to object, and ask five friends to object too. It’s an easy way of making your voice against Trident heard, and if there are enough objections the planning authority may have a rethink.


What are they proposing to build? Plans have been submitted for a “Conventional Manufacturing Rationalisation facility (CMR)” at Burghfield. This building will bring together all the processes needed to manufacture the non-nuclear parts of a nuclear weapon, including those currently carried out at both Burghfield and Aldermaston. The building will contain facilities for: “welding and brazing...environmentally controlled machine tool bay...ultra-high precision lathes...probe manufacture and assembly...heat treatment workshop (quenching and vacuum furnaces) ...high precision testing...metrology)...graphite and ceramics and degreasers...injection moulding and chemical mixing...quality assurance and inspection...machine tool maintenance...”. All these activities are essential to the construction and refurbishment of nuclear warheads.


Suggested objections

Objections on the basis that nuclear weapons are immoral or illegal tend to be ignored by the planning committee. However, the committee has to register all letters of objection, so if this is what you want to write please do so. However, the strongest grounds for objections relate to the criteria set out by the planning regulations, therefore you could, in your letter include the following points, in your own words:

* In view of the appalling health and safety record at Burghfield, there should be no further new build until all health and safety problems have been resolved;

* In July and again in autumn 2007, the MoD took the decision to tell AWE plc to suspend all live nuclear work, including all refurbishment of the current warhead system, after the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII)insisted on receiving a new licence application from AWE plc for every operation of live work on nuclear warheads.

* This followed the temporary suspension of work after the floods in July 2007, and the failure by September 2007 to remedy some 400 of 1,000 health and safety defects identified in 2006;

* These included serious faults with the structure of Burghfield's old “Gravel Gertie” buildings, where fissile material and high explosive components are combined in Trident warheads, and the condition of the warhead lifting cranes;

* In April 2008, the NII issued another warning Improvement Notice on Operating Rules at both AWE sites at Burghfield and Aldermaston.

* The plans do not make clear any measures to address the serious risks of more flooding;

* Because the plans have a “Defence Exempt Direction”, it is impossible for the planning committee to assess the true nature and risks associated with this proposed facility. Exempt information includes: “the precise details of design materials, quantities and environmental conditions for precision manufacture of simulants, exact replicas of weapon components to be used for research development and trials.” You could also add that this proposal should not be considered in isolation from all the other plans submitted by the MoD for AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield; that the application should be withdrawn and the whole package submitted to a public inquiry.

[For background to the developments at AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield, see]


Further details

Full details at

Application Reference: 08/00954/COMIND

Proposal: New Conventional Manufacturing Rationalisation facility (CMR), plus associated landscaping including sustainable drainage features. Disabled car parking, plus 20 cycle parking spaces, plus associated construction related infrastructure.

Expiry Date for Consultation: 17/06/2008


How to object

You can submit your objections electronically, by going to:

At the top of the page, press the link labelled “submit comments”

Or email:

Or fax: 01635-519408

Or write to: Clive Inwards

Senior Planning Officer

Council Offices

Market Street

Newbury RG14 5LD

Tel: 01635 519111