Meet the activists blocking the Trident renewal factory


CommonSpace speaks to two protestors at Burghfield nuclear weapons plant in Berkshire, who are among hundreds engaging in protests there throughout June against Trident renewal

SINCE THE BEGINNING of June hundreds of anti-Trident activists are engaging in a rolling protests to shut down the activities of Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE).

Burghfield AWE, which is based just outside Reading, is a nuclear weapons factory that is used to service the UK’s existing Trident nuclear weapons system based a Faslane in Scotland, and will be used to construct warheads for the new generation of Trident, if it is voted for in UK Parliament later in 2016.

CommonSpace spoke to two protestors about their motivations, and what they had to say to people in Scotland about the weapons system based there.

Why have you chosen to protest here through June 2016?

Angie Zelter: “We have a vote coming up to get parliament to approve the renewal of trident

“We’ve finally got a leader of the Labour party who is against trident. Most of the membership are opposed to trident.

“There is a whole load of misinformation going on about this. They say that this is just about renewing the platform, the submarines and so on. But we know they are trying to modernise the warheads as well, which is basically a breach of the non-proliferation treaty.

“Being here is about trying to encourage more debate. It’s about trying to get our parliamentarians to vote against Trident renewal, but it’s also about trying to build the peace movement.

“The media and politicians have side-lined this issue, as if it weren’t something which needs to be discussed.”

How successful has the protest at the Burghfield plant been? What’s the current situation?

Zelter: “The gates are closed at the moment, and though the police have confiscated our arm lock-ons we control the area.

“It’s interesting that the police have not arrested us and stopped the demonstrations, that’s maybe because they do not want the publicity of mass arrests.

“How long the camp will go on I don’t know, but different groups have responsibility for coming on different days. There both local people and people from far and wide.

“Even if the camp is closed we will continue protesting around the base.”

What is your message for people in Scotland who are awaiting a parliamentary vote on Trident renewal?

Zelter: “They’ve done a brilliant job in saying no to Trident in Scotland. You’ve got to support the anti-Trident actions in England now by coming down to help us resist Trident here.

“The Scottish Government should refuse, on international law grounds, to allow access to Scotland for the nuclear weapons. The Scottish Government have to be willing to say ‘we will not be complicit in conspiracy to commit war crimes’. Scotland could put out a very strong signal that way.

“Also, in any future referendum, the Yes side should say they won’t join NATO in the event of independence.”

Why have you chosen to protest here through June 2016?

Rowland Dye: “There have been protests for several years at Burghfeild, and I’ve been involved for three years.

“We know the 2016 there should be a vote in parliament for a so called go ahead for Trident renewal. Obviously we want to influence that.

“This is a time of devastating cuts, austerity which is destroying the services that people in our society need.

“Abolishing these weapons and investing the money and skills in renewable energies would create vast numbers of jobs. This country would be a better place in a hundred and one different ways.”

Why are you personally campaigning against Trident?

Dye: “What makes me passionate is not just the horror of nuclear war, but that in my earlier life I was a nuclear scientist.

“I’ve learned so much in recent years about what’s really going on with Trident. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know what a nuclear weapon is. Then there are a larger group of people who know what nuclear weapons are, but they have no idea about the UK’s capacity.

“They don’t know about Faslane in Scotland. Most people don’t know there is a nuclear bomb factory one mile south of the M4 near Reading.

“There are four Trident submarines, each fitted with eight missiles, each fitted with up to five British made warheads, each one of those eight times as destructive as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Do the sums, that’s nearly 50 million people who would be horribly killed in about half an hour if the weapons were launched. It’s horrific.

“The manufacture and transport of these things also exposes us to risk. They are being transported up and down the country every couple of months.

“The bomb factories themselves, like Burghfield, are dangerous. I mean, they are bomb factories – what could possibly go wrong? They are constructing weapons eight times as powerful as those that flattened Hiroshima just outside a major population centre.”

What is your message for people in Scotland who are awaiting a parliamentary vote on Trident renewal?

Dye: “I want to say congratulations to the people of Scotland, and congratulations to you elected representatives. Suddenly Trident is back on the political agenda, it is being talked about again.

“We are inspired by what’s happening in Scotland. Let’s go further with that and help the people of England to wake up to what we are trying to do here in Burghfield.”

Picture and video courtesy of Trident Ploughares and Youtube

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