Hundreds of protesters have today blockaded the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, near Reading, with the greatest number of arrests at the site in a decade. A number of gates to the site have been blocked by protesters for several hours in an attempt to halt work at the nuclear weapons factory.

The gates to the sprawling facility were blocked by protesters peacefully sitting and lying in the road, some locked together with concrete, glue, climbing clips and chains. One gate was blocked by the erection of  tripod of scaffolding poles with a protester attached to the top. There have been in the region of twenty arrests. Surrounding roads were blocked from 6:30am in preparation for the start of work at the site and remained closed for several hours.

Today’s peaceful protest is the latest stage in an increased campaigning focus at Aldermaston. Protest has escalated as a result of massive government spending at the site including a building programme on the scale of Heathrow Terminal 5. Campaigners believe that the developments are part of the process of building new nuclear warheads for the replacement of the Trident system. The system is estimated to cost in excess of £76bn.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said “Today’s action at Aldermaston has been a great success. We have effectively obstructed work at the site for many hours, closing gates and blocking roads. This is the largest blockade of Aldermaston for many years and signals an increased public concern about Britain’s weapons of mas destruction.

She continued, “At a time of economic crisis, our government is prioritising nuclear bombs over healthcare, job creation and investment in sustainable energy production. The majority of British taxpayers do not want their money sent on Trident replacement and the new generation of nuclear weapons that will be made here at Aldermaston. Today’s protest shows a renewed commitment that Britain’s security should be based on peace and justice, not war and nukes.”

The protest was organised by Trident Ploughshares and supported by CND.