PLANS to increase radioactive output in Aldermaston by more than 2,000 per cent have been put forward to the Environment Agency (EA).

The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) proposes to increase the current restriction of 4.4 megabecquerels to 100MBq to support the UK's nuclear defence resources.

Officials have suggested that the annual rise would result in negligible risk to the public and a consultation was launched on Friday.

AWE was first placed into special measures in 2013 by the Office for Nuclear Regulation, a verdict which was upheld in August for the fifth year running.

Peter Caddock, AWE group leader for Environment said: “This important application for a variation to our environmental permit supports a programme which is important for our national nuclear forensic capability.

"At AWE, as a responsible business in everything that we do, we need to demonstrate that our activities have minimal impact on the environment and local community.

"In doing so we have completed assessment work to demonstrate that this activity has minimal impact to members of the public.”

The average annual dose to a member of the public from all sources of environmental radiation is 2300 microsieverts.

A very small dose of 0.16 microsieverts is expected to be released from the proposed increase.

Radioactive wastes are produced at the site, including plutonium and uranium, for the research and development of warheads.

A spokesman for the EA added: "Providing a business can prove that the proposed activities meet all the legal requirements, including environmental, technological and health requirements, then we are legally obliged to issue a permit even if some people do not approve of the decision."

Workers at the Aldermaston and Burghfield sites have taken part in a number of strikes following over pensions.

Of the 36 nuclear licensed sites in the UK, only six are subject to enhanced regulatory attention, including the two AWE sites.

Email: using the reference EPR/QB3535DR/V003 to make a comment on the consultation.