Berkshire nukes factory heavily disrupted by four-hour protest
Construction work at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Burghfield, Berkshire is still disrupted as the result of action by peaceful critics of nuclear weapons. Eight people blocked the main construction gate to the site for four hours this morning.
The eight people, aged between 19 and 40, arrived at the gate at 7.20am and locked themselves together.
Police were called as traffic queued up along the road. Vehicles were eventually diverted to a much longer route. The blockade was ended after four hours, but is continuing to delay the construction work.
The blockaders are supporters of Action AWE. They include Christian activists alongside members of Yorkshire CND.
Critics say the construction work should not be taking place even within the terms of the government’s official position, as no decision has yet been made on renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system. Ministers have announced £2bn of spending on development work at AWE, which includes the two sites of Burghfield and Aldermaston. A decision on Trident renewal is due in 2016.
The eight blockaders were supported by four others who helped with liaison with police and site staff. All have now left the site, some slightly bruised and overheated due to very hot weather, but aware that their sufferings are very minor compared to those they seek to prevent.
Andrew Dey, 25, from Bradford, said after leaving the gateway:
“By blocking just one gate we were able to slow down work massively. We’ve also sent a message that we won’t tolerate the production of weapons of mass destruction in Britain.
“We’re not calling for the Burghfield and Aldermaston bases to be shut down. We’re calling for them to stop working on nuclear proliferation. Those bases can be used for disarmament purposes. We don’t want those people to lose their jobs.”
Joanna Frew, 35, a member of the United Reformed Church, who lives in London but is originally from Scotland, said:
“If God is a god of creation, then nuclear weapons are the complete opposite of that. We have to do everything in faith and prayer to be co-creators with God and not let destruction and fear be part of our society.”
Andrew and Joanna were joined by Catherine Bann, 40, a mother of two from Todmorden; Amy Clark, 19, a student from Bradford; Hannah Brock, 28, a Quaker from London; Matt Fawcett, 39, from Yorkshire CND; Chloe Skinner, 26, an Anglican and PhD student from Sheffield; and Phil Wood, 20, a student from Bradford.
Action AWE is a grassroots campaign of nonviolent actions dedicated to halting nuclear weapons production at AWE. Action AWE is committed to active nonviolence. It includes people of several religions and none.
Operated by a consortium of Jacobs Engineering Group, Lockheed Martin and Serco, AWE Burghfield plays an integral part in the final assembly and maintenance of nuclear warheads for use in the Trident system. In 2011 Peter Luff, the then Minister for Defence Equipment, announced £2 billion of spending for redevelopment of the Burghfield and Aldermaston weapons factories.
Polls consistently show that well over half of the British public are opposed to the renewal of Trident. The figure appears to be rising, with 79% opposing Trident renewal in a Guardian poll only last month.