Page last updated at 21:21 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Berkshire councillors approve uranium nuclear facility

Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)
The Atomic Weapons Establishment builds Britain's nuclear warheads

Plans for a new facility to store enriched uranium at Britain's nuclear weapons "factory" in West Berkshire have been approved by councillors.

The Pegasus development at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston, near Thatcham, would include offices and access roads.

Nearly 1,500 people objected to the Ministry of Defence bid, but only one councillor voted against the plans.

AWE builds the nuclear warheads for Britain's submarine-launched missiles.

It wants to replace buildings that date back to the 1950s.

'Safety risks'

Protest groups, including the Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp, say there has not been enough public consultation on the plans for the facility, which would cover about one hectare (2.6 acres) of land.

The camp is calling for full details of the "safety risks and environmental impact" of the proposed facility to be made public and for a public inquiry to be held.

The MoD has always said the safety of operations at AWE is its "top priority".

No objections to the plans were raised by the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Natural England or the parish council.

AWE representatives did not comment after the planning meeting on Wednesday evening.

The latest planning bid is part of a major redevelopment of the AWE site, which also includes new research buildings.

AWE employs about 4,500 staff including scientists, engineers, technicians, and safety specialists.

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