PLANS for a new Lidl near Aldermaston could be scuppered by safety concerns due to how close it would be to a nuclear weapons factory. 

The supermarket would be built about 600 metres south of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) site, which builds and maintains the UK’s nuclear warheads. 

Lidl must submit an emergency plan to West Berkshire Council in case of a ‘major incident’ at AWE, and staff must be trained to shelter shoppers in the supermarket. 

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This includes a lockdown of all staff and shoppers, for possibly 24 hours. 

Michael Butler, a council planner, said: “Clearly, the provision of both food and liquids in the store will be easy to obtain, but other matters such as ventilation and waste disposal over perhaps a 24-hour period has to be taken into account.

“The actions of staff in keeping shoppers calm as well is important as any evacuation plans.”

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Mr Butler made the comments in a report to the council’s eastern area planning committee, which will meet on Wednesday, December 4, and decide whether to approve or refuse planning permission. 

Mr Butler is recommending that councillors refuse permission, partly because of how close the supermarket will be to the nuclear weapons factory. He said: “It will require evacuation in the event of an incident, and the ability of store staff to respond adequately is questioned.”

Lidl wants to build the supermarket on land south of Ravenswing Farm, next to Aldermaston Road and Silchester Road. It would build a car park with spaces for 128 cars and 20 bicycles. 

Reading Chronicle: A map showing where the supermarket would goA map showing where the supermarket would go

The supermarket would have 2,177 square metres of total floor space. The site is currently an open grass field and outside any settlement boundary. A new footpath to Tadley town centre would be built. 

Mr Butler said: “To the north of the application site runs a public right of way which is well used by the local population: it is inevitable that the rural and tranquil experience will be harmed … by the new store.

“The Sainsbury’s store in Tadley town centre is overtrading, in terms of increased turnover well above company averages, given the lack of competition in the locality.” 

Reading Chronicle: The field where the supermarket would goThe field where the supermarket would go

The council received 911 letters from the public, with 849 supporting the supermarket, and 55 against. 

Those supporting said the new shop would compete with the nearby Sainsbury’s, so food prices could fall. They also mentioned there would be more jobs, and more shopping choice. 

Those objecting said there is no need for another shop, and it will increase noise and air pollution, and traffic in the area. 

Lidl would be liable to pay £335,000 community infrastructure levy, which could be spent on local schools, roads, and parks.