Welsh peace campaigners face court over anti-nuclear protest
Four Welsh Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) peace campaigners are amongst eight protesters who are due to appear at Reading Magistrates Court tomorrow, 23 April.
Six months ago the campaigners blocked the road to Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), which is thought to be responsible for the final assembly of Trident mounted nuclear warheads, their in-service maintenance and their eventual decommissioning.
They said they would all plead not guilty to willful obstruction of a highway. The four Welsh defendants are Awel Irene from Penrhyndeudraeth, Brian and Jan Jones from Pontardawe, and Marie Walsh from Blackwood.
In October last year, the atomic weapons factory was closed for a working day when the activists used cars and lock-on tubes to create barriers across all vehicle entrances to the site.
Awel Irene said: “Threatening to use nuclear weapons runs counter to all I believe in, as I work for peace and reconciliation”.
Another of the defendants, Jan Jones said: “I’ve been campaigning against nuclear weapons for 63 years. I had tried all the conventional methods of protest, and now at 80 I am prepared to try anything non-violent to oppose them.”
All the defendants are pledged to oppose nuclear weapons by peaceful non-violent direct action, believing that the UK should follow the lead of the many nations that have signed up to join the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
CND are also campaigning against the construction of an underground nuclear waste dump in Wales.
The Welsh government is conducting a consultation, alongside one in England, on burying nuclear waste underground in a Geological Disposal Facility, and is looking for a community which will volunteer to host such a facility, in exchange for money to spend on local facilities.
“65 Welsh councils [county, town and city] have contacted us saying that they will not host an underground nuclear waste dump”, said Brian Jones, Vice Chair of CND Cymru, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Wales.
“They recognise that no amount of investment could justify leaving such a toxic radioactive legacy to future generations.
“The actual level of opposition to burying nuclear waste is even greater. Some councils may have passed motions and not informed CND Cymru. A few councils, like Cardiff and Torfaen, have not specifically rejected these proposals, as they believe that their existing nuclear-free policies clearly express their opposition to nuclear waste dumps.”
“Many smaller councils believe that if the county council has rejected the plans, then there is no need for them to discuss the matter; however, where there are two tiers of councils, both need to express their opposition. We’ve also had a couple of community councils saying that nuclear waste is ‘too political’ for them to consider.”
The consultation closed on April 14th, and the list of councils rejecting the plans was submitted by C N D Cymru as part of their submission to the consultation.
In March, two consultation meetings, planned for Swansea and Llandudno, were cancelled because too many people wanted to take part. They were replaced by online webinars, at which a total of seven questions from members of the public were allowed.
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