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Month of action at AWE Burghfield
June 2016 will see a month of disarmament action against Trident at AWE Burghfield. Situated a few miles south-west of Reading, this is at the heart of the UK's nuclear weapons system. It is the final assembly line for the UK's nuclear warheads, and they return here for major maintenance work.
Opposition to Trident has spiralled rapidly in recent years. In Scotland, polls consistently show 85% opposed to the presence of Trident submarines, the country has elected an anti-Trident government, and blockades of the country's submarine bases are so frequent and popular that blockaders are rarely prosecuted.
It may seem that we are nowhere near this in England, but we should take comfort from the fact the Scotland's anti-Trident consensus has been achieved by ordinary people deciding what they believed in and acting on it. And even in the England, a larger and broader group of people are questioning the planned renewal of Trident. When the lifetime costs of a new Trident system were revised upwards, to £180bn, the veteran Conservative MP Crispin Blunt went on record to say that this couldn't be justified. Since then, they have risen again, to a staggering £205bn.
AWE Burghfield has seen some spectacular actions in recent years. Unlike it's big brother at Aldermaston, Burghfield has only three entrances, leaving it surprisingly vulnerable to protests. In Autumn 2013, activists quietly set up a camp on MOD land adjacent to the base and stayed for two weeks, carrying out a range of actions while they were there. In June 2014, all entrances were blocked by activists locked to vehicles. The police allowed most people to leave with the vehicles. In March 2015, the base was again closed down by a big blockade, and once again, the police elected not to make any arrests.
The month of action will run for the whole of June, and the idea is based on the inspiring Faslane 365 Year of Action, when blockades were carried out by autonomous groups at the Scottish submarine base on almost every day for a year. It is hoped that many autonomous groups, whether geographical or united by a theme, will organise their own actions, which they can use to make links between Trident and their own issues, be it climate change or cuts to public services.
To support groups, we have organised trainings in Reading on Sunday 5 June. This is designed to enable groups not only to imagine the kinds of action that might be possible, but also to use the media, and to deal with any legal consequences which may follow. Trainings can also be arranged on request – just contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you are not part of a group but want be there, you can join the Trident Ploughshares blockade on Monday 6 June. People will be meeting for this on Sunday 5th, so you can go to the training before taking part in the blockade. As an added bonus, we have arranged for Seize The Day to perform on that evening. The venue for this is the Quaker Meeting House in Reading. You can find more details on: http://tridentploughshares.org/sunday-5th-june-programme-starting-tp-wee...