Early on the morning of October 24, a group of Trident Ploughshares activists from across the U.K. converged on Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment near Burghfield. They blocked approach roads, preventing workers from entering.
Hidden in the leafy lanes of Berkshire, Burghfield A.W.E. and its partner facility Aldermaston are where the U.K.’s nuclear warheads are planned and produced before being loaded onto lorries for trucking up public roads to the Trident submarine fleet in Scotland. The Mearings, a private road with access to the Main gate of AWE Burghfield, was blocked at both ends by a car with two people locked to it. The construction gate has a line of five people locked across it with their arms in lock-on tubes.
Trident Ploughshares photo
Some of the blockaders were still locked across the road at the end of the day. The police continued to work to remove them from the car they were attached to, having earlier cleared people from the other two entrances. Eventually, all nine activists were arrested and charged with obstruction of the highway.
Chris from Southampton, who blocked the South Mearings entrance to the main gate of the warhead assembly facility, said:
“Although its been very uncomfortable sitting in the same position with my arm in a drainpipe all day, it’s a small sacrifice when we hear that the entire planet is being put at risk by the abandoning of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Instead the nuclear weapons states should be signing up to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. If we have disrupted business as usual on the U.K.’s nuclear warhead refurbishment programme in even the smallest way, it’s been worth it.”
Julia, a life-long peace campaigner and grandmother of seven who lives in Leintwardine, Herefordshire, said:”There is very little public awareness that the U.K. continues to spend obscene amounts of money (over £200 billion) on upgrading its weapons of mass destruction. These weapons are illegal and deeply immoral in their indiscriminate slaughter of civilians. I’m ashamed that the U.K. continues in this folly. I hope our actions will raise awareness of what is going on here.”This day, the 24th of October, is special in marking 73 years since the birth of the United Nations. The U.K. government has totally failed to have anything to do with the ground-breaking U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Jane, a 38-year-old case worker from Scotland, said:
“I hope our actions today might bring more attention to the damning safety report on this bomb factory, produced by the Office for Nuclear Regulation last August. The ONR warned then that the Burghfield facility can only be allowed to continue for a limited period.”1
Trident Ploughshares photo
Jim, a 70-year-old retired civil servant, said with the current United Nations treaty on the total banning of nuclear weapons gaining support, it is only a matter of time before the U.K. and other nuclear-armed nations will feel international pressure to join the rational global majority. “I’ve never been involved in an action like this before, and its heartening and empowering to feel that something can be done!”
The nine Trident Ploughshares arrested have to return to Reading Court at the end of November.