26 Trident protesters held

Twenty-six people were arrested yesterday as demonstrators tried to blockade a nuclear weapons factory. About 400 people gathered before 7am at entrances to the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston, Berkshire, in an attempt to stop work at the site.

They sat down and some glued themselves together in protest against Trident submarine-based nuclear weapons. The Government is expected to decide on replacing the Trident system later this year.

Among those at the sit-in were Catholic and Anglican bishops and two Nobel peace laureates. "At a time of economic crisis, it is scandalous that billions of pounds are being squandered on new facilities at Aldermaston," said Kate Hudson, of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. AWE, which builds Trident warheads, said the site had operated as normal despite the protest.

Organisers of the protest said up to 800 people travelled from across the UK to take part in the blockade of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston, Berkshire, where warheads for Trident submarines are made.



Thames Valley Police, who said the figure was 400, made 19 arrests - five for obstructing the highway, six for entering the site and one on suspicion of causing criminal damage.



Demonstrators, including those from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), arrived at 7am and blocked the seven gates at the site either by sitting down in front of them or locking themselves together.



Two Nobel Peace Prize recipients - Jody Williams, who led a campaign to ban land mines, and Mairead Maguire, who fronted a drive to end violence in Northern Ireland - were among those taking part.



CND chairwoman Kate Hudson said: "People have come from all over the UK and we also have a big international contingent - it's the biggest blockade for many years.



"It's a reflection of the fact that the majority of the population is against the British possession of nuclear weapons.



"The Government wants to be a leading player in nuclear disarmament, but they can't say that and press ahead with the Trident replacement."



Brian Larkin, from Trident Ploughshares which helped organise the protest and who travelled from Helensburgh in Scotland, said: "This is the biggest blockade of Aldermaston in years and comes at a time when even major political parties are questioning the logic of spending up to £97 billion on useless weapons. It demonstrates the depth and breadth of determined civil society opposition to Trident and its planned replacement.



"Although the Government now seems to have delayed the next phase of Trident replacement until after the general election, the ongoing construction of facilities at the AWE for the design, development and manufacture of new nuclear warheads is illegal and immoral and will only lead to further proliferation of nuclear weapons."



Angie Zelter, co-founder of Trident Ploughshares, who travelled from Knighton in Wales, added: "In May, world governments will meet to review the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but this programme of modernisation of UK nuclear weapons violates the treaty and could lead to a disastrous failure of the review conference."



Sarah Lasenby, from Oxford, said: "The time has come for the UK to disarm its nuclear weapons. Instead of building a new generation, the Government should go to the upcoming conference and commit to negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention to abolish nuclear weapons worldwide."



Chief Inspector Judith Johnson, Deputy Commander for West Berkshire Local Police Area, said: "The vast majority of protesters were peaceful and we would like to express our thanks to them for their co-operation and consideration throughout the day.



"However a small minority seemed intent on causing problems. Our foremost priority was public safety and minimising disruption to the community and local businesses.



Assistant Chief Constable Brian Langston added: "We have taken steps to learn the lessons highlighted from the G20 demonstrations last year and have been liaising with the protest groups during the course of the year to ensure that there were no surprises for either the police or the protesters."



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen