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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 08:40 GMT
Nuclear upgrade project approved
Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment
The laser will replicate the physical conditions of a nuclear reaction
Plans for a multi-million pound upgrade of an atomic weapons facility have been approved by planners in west Berkshire.

A new building at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston has been earmarked for Project Orion, the first phase of the development.

It will house a powerful laser which replicates the physical conditions of a nuclear reaction.

On Wednesday night, anti-nuclear protesters picketed the meeting and vowed to continue fighting the plans.

Di McDonald, from the Nuclear Information Service, said they were disappointed.

She said: "This has clarified matters I think, and we will be consulting our lawyers now.

"We will be looking at going to judicial review and it will all be hammered out in court."

AWE has said it wants to change the appearance of the site from that of an "old industrial complex" to a centre with a reputation for "scientific and technical excellence".

The company is also planning to upgrade accommodation and office facilities.

The project was approved by a West Berkshire Council planning committee on Wednesday night at the Calcot Centre in Reading.

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