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Block the Builders return to Britain's nuclear bomb factory as Trident debate heats up

In December 2006 the government published a White Paper in which it confirmed its intention to replace the Trident submarine fleet and outlined proposals for replacing the current Trident D5 missiles. The parliamentary debate on these aspects of Trident replacement is expected to take place in March.

 

However, the White Paper deferred the issue of what nuclear warhead the missiles would carry. Tony Blair's introductory text stated that a decision on warhead replacement could be taken in the next parliament.

 

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE BOMB

Meanwhile, massive work to upgrade AWE Aldermaston continues without pause. A recent industry report suggested that construction firms are expecting £12bn to be spent on the nuclear warhead factory over the next 12 years [2]. A curious situation if no decision has been made on a future warhead.

 

Block the Builders will continue their regular monthly obstruction of construction traffic entering the base. A spokesperson said "We continue to call for a halt to building work at AWE. This massive development project completely undermines any faith in the so-called 'debate'."

 

WIDESPREAD CONDEMNATION

Since the publication of the government's White Paper there has been widespread opposition, to both the replacement proposals and the process of decision-making. Concerns have been expressed by a very broad range of individuals and organisations; parliamentarians from all sides of the House have questioned the government, and faith leaders, trade unionists and the anti-nuclear movement have condemned both the policy implications and the financial cost.

 

LOCAL NEWS

Local media may be interested to note that, despite previously being gifted money by AWE just days before a 2005 planning meeting [3], the local parish council is objecting to one of the base's current planning applications and a special planning meeting will be held on 22 January in Newbury [4].

 

ABOUT BLOCK THE BUILDERS

 

Formed in 2004, Block the Builders is a nonviolent direct action group which has
been taking practical action to slow construction work AWE Aldermaston and at
the sites of companies with construction contracts with AWE.

This has taken the form of a monthly, publicly-announced blockade of AWE
Aldermaston, combined with unannounced actions at AWE and contractor sites, and
events in conjunction with other groups such as the recent Greenpeace/BtB mass
weapons inspection (27/11/06). The December 2006 blockade saw roads around the site closed for two hours and seven people arrested (pictured).

 

For reports of previous blockades, see http://www.aldermaston.net/news

 

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NOTES

[1] White Paper: http://tinyurl.com/ye878z

[2] Industry report: http://www.costain.com/externaldocs/finance/Nuclear.pdf
page 17 (previous pages are very good for explaining the general nuclear sector contracts, whose bidding etc) but page 17 says "AWE Framework agreement £4m in 2006. Forecast £8m in 2007. Positioned for contracting on AWE's investment programme £12bn over next 12 years"

[3] Minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on 8th November 2005
No members of the public were present.
94 Parish Plan progress report · The Parish Plan was tabled. It was agreed that
Clerk will write to Ken Ray congratulating him and the steering group on the
excellent work they have carried out. A donation of £1500 had been received
from AWE and it was agreed that the Clerk would write expressing the thanks of
the Parish Council. [original at: http://www.aldermaston.co.uk/2005/dec05/pc_minutes11.05.doc]

[4] Special meeting of the Eastern Area Planning Committee. The only item for determination will be 06/2326/comind (AWE office accommodation application).

This will start at 6.30pm and be held in the Council Chamber, Market Street, Newbury.
http://www.blockthebuilders.org.uk