Nuclear fallout risk increases emergency service response

The construction of four dwellings within a possible radiation emergency zone surrounding the Aldermaston atomic weapons establishment (AWE) in Berkshire has been prohibited because it would increase the burden on emergency services in the event of a major emergency.

A ‘radiation emergency’ was defined as an event whereby the public received an effective dose of five milliseverts during a year following the event. AWE had established an emergency plan to provide a co-ordinated framework for all services responding to facilitate the protection of the public. An off-site planning group supported by the health and safety executive opposed the development on the basis that it would compromise the ability of responding services to implement the agreed plan by increasing the burden upon them.

Although the risk of an accident was very low it could still happen, the inspector decided, and radioactive material by its very nature was very hazardous. The emergency plan had been drawn up with a ‘reasonably foreseeable’ accident in mind and the development would increase the number of people living within the most densely populated part of the buffer zone. It would place additional pressure on behalf of responders. Moreover, the need to fully evacuate residents could not be discounted albeit this would be a last resort. Since the scheme would not deliver any appreciable benefits the appeal was dismissed.

Inspector: Robert Parker; Written representations

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