SEVEN protesters were arrested after a demonstration outside a nuclear weapons plant in north Hampshire.

The anti-nuclear weapons campaigners were part of a large group that blockaded an entrance at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, in Aldermaston, on Monday.

From 6.45am, about 30 members of the Block the Building group stopped vehicles entering the site at West Gate by padlocking the gates shut and sitting on the ground with their arms linked.

Protesters wanted to draw attention to new building work that is under way at the AWE site, which they claim will lead to a new generation of nuclear weapons.

Protester Kate Holcombe said: "It's important that everyone is made aware of what the MoD and the people who work here are doing. The community should know."

Ministry of Defence Police based at AWE had asked protesters to leave the area. When they refused, demonstrators were physically removed in a joint operation with Thames Valley Police.

Two people were arrested by MoD Police for aggravated trespass and obstruction of the highway. They were later released on police bail pending further enquiries.

Five others were arrested by MoD Police for obstruction of the highway. Three were cautioned and released, while two were charged with the offence and released on police bail.

Sgt Malcolm Whitaker, of Thames Valley Police, said: "It was a successful operation as everybody from AWE managed to get into work with minimal disruption to outside traffic."

Staff at the site were able to get into the base by 8.10am.

First published: Wednesday, May 11, 2005