Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Flood fears over Aldermaston plan

Trident missile in flight
Aldermaston is responsible for making Britain's Trident nuclear warheads

A plan has been submitted for a new nuclear warhead facility in Berkshire despite the area being classed as having a high probability of flooding.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) wants to modernise the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire.

In a flood report for the plans it was stated some of the site is within a zone at risk from the Burghfield Brook.

The MoD said the buildings would be made of reinforced concrete and have sufficient ground clearance.

Under the proposal, a new main facility, support building with 16 lighting protector towers, gate houses, access roads and security fences would be constructed at the site.

The plan will be considered by West Berkshire District Council on 4 March.

I do not believe that West Berkshire council would allow a commercial developer permission to build on this site
Rob White, Reading Green Party

Rob White, from the Reading Green Party, said in objection to the plan: "The site has a history of flooding and is poorly served by local roads.

"I do not believe that the environmental impacts of the development have been adequately assessed, and I do not believe that West Berkshire council would allow a commercial developer permission to build on this site."

A council spokesman said: "The main thing the planning committee will look at is the scale of the buildings and design along with impact on surrounding areas.

"The flood assessment will be taken into account."

The flood assessment also stated: "The site is also vulnerable to surface water flooding due to heavy rainfall on the site itself, as is typical for a site of this size."

But the report noted the nature of the existing development, its security requirements and the need for a new modern replacement facility mean that there are no alternative sites that could be used to locate the proposed development.

Aldermaston is responsible for the production of warheads for the Trident nuclear deterrent programme and its planned replacement.

The MoD spokeswoman said: "The proposal is to build the facility on a part of the site which has not in the past been subject to flooding and which has been assessed as not being vulnerable to flooding even in the most extreme of events."

Aldermaston has been the headquarters for the UK's atomic warhead capability for more than 50 years.

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