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Changes to 'Detailed Emergency Planning Zone' AWE Burghfield

Issued on: 18 March 2020

In line with changes to legislation, the areas around the AWE Aldermaston and AWE Burghfield Nuclear Licensed Sites, each known as a 'Detailed Emergency Planning Zone' (DEPZ), have been reviewed. As a result, the Aldermaston DEPZ is unchanged, but the Burghfield DEPZ has been expanded.

The increase in the DEPZ for AWE Burghfield is not the result of any change in activity at the site, and there is no greater risk to the public than before the new legislation was introduced.

The Zones were updated because of changes introduced as a result of the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2019 (REPPIR 19).  The DEPZ creates a definitive area for the Council and other emergency responders to develop a detailed emergency plan, so that those living and working in the area can be protected and supported as quickly as possible in the unlikely event that a radiation emergency should ever occur. 

Following an assessment by AWE detailing the minimum area that each DEPZ should be, West Berkshire Council's role has been to set out the precise boundaries.   This is determined by taking into account local knowledge about communities and geographical features.  This is the first time that the Council has had responsibility for determining the DEPZs, a role previously undertaken by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). 

Councillor Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council said:

"While I recognise that this does mean an adjustment in the size of the Burghfield zone, I must stress that the updates do not reflect any additional risk at the sites and are simply the result of changes in legislation.

"The safety of our residents is paramount, and a clearly defined area is required to inform local emergency planning to ensure that the public would be protected in the unlikely event of a radiation emergency.  We have existing emergency plans which are currently being updated in consultation with the other emergency responders and local partners to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place.

"We are also producing an information booklet that will be sent to all properties in the Zones to make sure that residents and businesses are well informed about the changes.  In the meantime general information is available on our website."

The outcome of the review of the DEPZs and an interactive map is available along with some FAQs at www.info.westberks.gov.uk/awe.