PLANS for a new atomic weapons facility at the AWE site in Aldermaston have been given the go-ahead.

Despite dozens of campaigners protesting before last night’s West Berkshire Eastern Area Planning Committee meeting, permission was granted for a Technical Development Centre.

The new facility, which is to replace the cancelled, highly-contentious Project Hydrus, will support hydrodynamics work at the site, housing a radiographic development hall, laboratories, workshops, offices, plant rooms, conference and welfare facilities.

About 30 staff will be employed and it will allow technological developments to be pursued in X-ray and other techniques.

Hydrodynamics research facility Project Hydrus was cancelled in September 2010, when the UK and France signed a joint treaty to construct a shared research facility.

Dr Graeme Nicholson, AWE’s Director of Science and Technology said: “The treaty signing paved the way for the UK and France to share the EPURE facility for future hydrodynamics research.

“It was also agreed that the UK would support this work by constructing a Technology Development Centre at AWE Aldermaston which scientists from both nations will use.” Members of of ‘No To Atomic Weapons Development’, a local network of Berkshire Greenpeace, Reading Peace Group, and the Nuclear Awareness Group, gathered outside the meeting in Calcot, dressed as mad scientist and wearing gags, to symbolise the fact they didn’t feel their objections were being listened to.

Hannah Jones, of the group, said they were disappointed, but not surprised with the decision to approve the centre. Council officers had recommended that planning permission be granted.

A spokesperson from AWE said they are pleased that the application has been approved.