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."



News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little