Didcot A station set to close next March

Herald Series: This group of workers at Didcot Power Station celebrate to mark the completion of their work on the chimney in 1968 This group of workers at Didcot Power Station celebrate to mark the completion of their work on the chimney in 1968

FOR 42 years the six iconic cooling towers at Didcot Power Station have loomed large over south Oxfordshire.

But now the countdown to their demolition has started as a closure date was yesterday confirmed.

The Oxford Mail revealed in May that coal-fired Didcot A was likely to close at some point next year.

Now RWE npower has announced it will shut for good on March 31, after 42 years of service.

The power station was originally due to close in 2015 but in 2008 it opted out of a European Union directive and therefore had to close following 20,000 hours of generation from that date.

Power station bosses say Didcot A will reach the end of its allocated hours by March 2013.

RWE npower spokesman Kelly Brown said decommissioning will take six months and that will be followed by demolition.

The cooling towers are likely to come down in the two years after decommissioning.

She added: “There is no timetable yet for demolition and a detailed plan will be drawn up nearer the time it is due to start.

“Once the demolition process starts it could be completed within months.

“All six cooling towers will be demolished after coming to the end of their useful life.

“People will be kept fully informed about the timetable for demolition.”

Town council leader Margaret Davies said: “RWE npower has already started planning for the future by trying to ensure that the cooling towers can’t be listed buildings.

“But this will be an empty brownfield site right on Didcot’s doorstep, and it needs to be redeveloped for future employment.

“It’s unlikely that the site will be used for housing because it could be contaminated.

“Some people have a great affection for the cooling towers, but we need to make sure the site is properly redeveloped when Didcot A has gone.”

Didcot A power station manager Phil Noake, 59, from Abingdon, has worked at the site for 20 years.

He said: “This is a time to reflect on the fantastic team we have at Didcot A power station, and say thank you to all those who have helped to deliver power to homes and businesses for over 40 years.”

About 210 staff work at Didcot A and power bosses said there could be job opportunities for staff in other parts of the company. Some workers could be involved in the decommissioning programme The closure reflects the national switch from coal-fired power stations to low-carbon power generation.

RWE has invested more than £3 billion over the past three years in the UK and now runs the largest installed capacity of both renewable and flexible gas-fired power stations in the country.

Gas fired Didcot B was built alongside the closing coal-fired station in 1997 and will continue to operate as normal.

TIMELINE

September 1970: Didcot A, with its six 325ft cooling towers, first generates electricity.

1984: Miners from South Wales staged a round-the-clock picket at Didcot power station as part of a nationwide strike by coalminers.

November 2006: Twenty-five Greenpeace campaigners break into Didcot A on the same day former Prime Minister Tony Blair visits the county. Protesters paint ‘Blair’s Legacy’ down the 650ft stack and the disruption to power generation costs £690,000.

2008: Staff are told that Didcot A is likely to close by the end of 2015.

October 2009: Twenty Camp for Climate Action protesters break into Didcot A and occupy the tall chimney and a coal conveyor.

September 2010: Staff at Didcot A celebrate 40 years of generating electricity.

May 2012: RWE npower reveals that Didcot A is likely to close in 2013, not 2015.

September 2012: RWE npower confirm that Didcot A will close on March 31, 2013.

 

Comments (12)

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11:05am Wed 19 Sep 12

Megs says...

Which Town Council is Margaret Davies leader of? - Didcot I assume. Hasn't she twigged, despite being told by councils within whose boundaries the power station is located that, although she may be asked for a view, the decision about the site's future is not her council's? If journalists actually contacted people in the area where the power station is (rather than just on the doorstep as Ms Davies alludes to) they would find precious little support for the preservation of the towers and plant and not much enthusiasm for additional industrial developments - at least not until another bridge across the Thames is built.
Which Town Council is Margaret Davies leader of? - Didcot I assume. Hasn't she twigged, despite being told by councils within whose boundaries the power station is located that, although she may be asked for a view, the decision about the site's future is not her council's? If journalists actually contacted people in the area where the power station is (rather than just on the doorstep as Ms Davies alludes to) they would find precious little support for the preservation of the towers and plant and not much enthusiasm for additional industrial developments - at least not until another bridge across the Thames is built. Megs

11:39am Wed 19 Sep 12

EMBOX1 says...

Very true Megs. The A34 is clogged on a daily basis, and the only way more industrial use can be done is via the use of rail - maybe when electrification comes to Didcot.

Otherwise, it is a massive site, so I would hope at least some housing can go in - to soak up the demand on villages nearby.

Another bridge over the Thames is needed, but this brings serious threats of development on greenfield sites.

Personally, I think another power station is very likely to be built here, and more than likely and incinerator too.
Very true Megs. The A34 is clogged on a daily basis, and the only way more industrial use can be done is via the use of rail - maybe when electrification comes to Didcot. Otherwise, it is a massive site, so I would hope at least some housing can go in - to soak up the demand on villages nearby. Another bridge over the Thames is needed, but this brings serious threats of development on greenfield sites. Personally, I think another power station is very likely to be built here, and more than likely and incinerator too. EMBOX1

12:11pm Wed 19 Sep 12

davyboy says...

as there are 2 stations on that site, i presume 'B', will still be operating. that is the gas powered one. maybe there will be another, burning waste. that would be a good thing. the towers are iconic, and one of the first things you see when coming into the county along the m40.
as there are 2 stations on that site, i presume 'B', will still be operating. that is the gas powered one. maybe there will be another, burning waste. that would be a good thing. the towers are iconic, and one of the first things you see when coming into the county along the m40. davyboy

12:39pm Wed 19 Sep 12

docs says...

I have no great love for the towers, and am sure that south Oxfordshire would be better without them. BUT we still need electricity: decommissioning a perfectly good power station does seem a bit daft.
I have no great love for the towers, and am sure that south Oxfordshire would be better without them. BUT we still need electricity: decommissioning a perfectly good power station does seem a bit daft. docs

12:53pm Wed 19 Sep 12

Megs says...

What is developed on such a large site will, of course, depend on who buys the land and how they seek to maximise their profits. There have been many more or less serious suggestions and all have wider environmental constraints due to not only travel infrastructure but also topography, especially proximity to the Thames and hence threats to water supplies; air quality (the A34 makes it quite lousy) -even closeness to military sites and civil nuclear establishments may be a consideration - as with a recent proposal that London's third runway goes there!; and many more that haven't hit the debate yet.
Given what is happening to world food supplies and consequently proces I would not even be surprised if the best long term investment in the land turns out to be agriculture.
What is developed on such a large site will, of course, depend on who buys the land and how they seek to maximise their profits. There have been many more or less serious suggestions and all have wider environmental constraints due to not only travel infrastructure but also topography, especially proximity to the Thames and hence threats to water supplies; air quality (the A34 makes it quite lousy) -even closeness to military sites and civil nuclear establishments may be a consideration - as with a recent proposal that London's third runway goes there!; and many more that haven't hit the debate yet. Given what is happening to world food supplies and consequently proces I would not even be surprised if the best long term investment in the land turns out to be agriculture. Megs

1:18pm Wed 19 Sep 12

Adrian1 says...

Disneyland UK anyone?... by the way that doesn't get my vote.
Disneyland UK anyone?... by the way that doesn't get my vote. Adrian1

1:19pm Wed 19 Sep 12

Ellie the Bruce says...

But how can land that is as highly contaminated as this be used for argriculture if it can't be used for housing?

I can see it being used an extension for the other eye sore in Didcot - the landfill.
But how can land that is as highly contaminated as this be used for argriculture if it can't be used for housing? I can see it being used an extension for the other eye sore in Didcot - the landfill. Ellie the Bruce

3:05pm Wed 19 Sep 12

ger elttil OX2 0EJ says...

It will be 2020 before the old plant is fully decomissioned, dismantled and de-contaminated so no need to start worrying about what will happen to the sire just yet.
It will be 2020 before the old plant is fully decomissioned, dismantled and de-contaminated so no need to start worrying about what will happen to the sire just yet. ger elttil OX2 0EJ

3:09pm Wed 19 Sep 12

Megs says...

Ellie the bruce asks
"But how can land that is as highly contaminated as this be used for argriculture if it can't be used for housing?
I can see it being used an extension for the other eye sore in Didcot - the landfill."

Former mining sites/slag heaps have been reclaimed for agriculture. Isn't much of the contamination at Didcot coal dust?

The landfill is more than an eyesore, it's a nosesore.
Ellie the bruce asks "But how can land that is as highly contaminated as this be used for argriculture if it can't be used for housing? I can see it being used an extension for the other eye sore in Didcot - the landfill." Former mining sites/slag heaps have been reclaimed for agriculture. Isn't much of the contamination at Didcot coal dust? The landfill is more than an eyesore, it's a nosesore. Megs

4:46pm Wed 19 Sep 12

mrlocal1 says...

Agree with Megs.. Ms davies Town Council leader has,nt got a clue !!!...
But am afraid most have it all wrong RWEnpower will DEFINATLEY knock it down !They need money for other power stations in Kent or Nottingham , since recesion Rwenpower have no money.....
they sold ex land to have a large ASDA DC on .. watch this space another DC like a Tesco's or similar...
£4 million pound security fence, CCTV , rail link- ideal for a large "blue chip" company ...
Agree with Megs.. Ms davies Town Council leader has,nt got a clue !!!... But am afraid most have it all wrong RWEnpower will DEFINATLEY knock it down !They need money for other power stations in Kent or Nottingham , since recesion Rwenpower have no money..... they sold ex land to have a large ASDA DC on .. watch this space another DC like a Tesco's or similar... £4 million pound security fence, CCTV , rail link- ideal for a large "blue chip" company ... mrlocal1

6:46pm Wed 19 Sep 12

the wizard says...

The foundations under Didcot A are enormous and extensive. Don't forget the Thames Side pumping station and the large diameter pipes that run along the Pipe corridor road from the edge of the old Amey site, ah yes a relief road that already exists, and now there is a fair point.

One feature that will remain is the 400kv sub station which is geographically fixed and cannot be moved without massive expense and disruption.
The copper within the thousands of miles of cables within the plant is of a seriously good quality compared with what is available today and therefore extremely desirable. A lot of the equipment within the plant is massive and probably the last of its kind as large apparatus such as this is not envisaged for the future, hopefully some of it will become exhibits somewhere like the Kensington Science Museum.
The original turbines although badged as Parsons, a formerly British company based in Newcastle (since absorbed by Siemens) were in fact a GEC/AEI design, and they were not without their problems in their early days, but as with all large plant of its kind became more reliable as time went on. Indeed viewed by many as something of a dinosaur and an eyesore Didcot A became a very important feature not only in contributing to the national grid, but also the local economy, at times a major player in both. The world and its pollution fears is a long way from where these stations were at first envisaged by the Wilson government who saw the need to build them all around the UK, many very similar to Didcot and those inland mostly had 8 cooling towers not the six which often it is said compromised the stations output, whether that is correct or not I don't know. One thing is for sure, the station has fulfilled its purpose and helped the nation through some cold winters, provided power for all and employment and wealth for more than a few in many walks of life.
The station may go, but the pylons, towers or call them what you do, will remain probably for some years yet, a reminder of what was Didcot A.
The foundations under Didcot A are enormous and extensive. Don't forget the Thames Side pumping station and the large diameter pipes that run along the Pipe corridor road from the edge of the old Amey site, ah yes a relief road that already exists, and now there is a fair point. One feature that will remain is the 400kv sub station which is geographically fixed and cannot be moved without massive expense and disruption. The copper within the thousands of miles of cables within the plant is of a seriously good quality compared with what is available today and therefore extremely desirable. A lot of the equipment within the plant is massive and probably the last of its kind as large apparatus such as this is not envisaged for the future, hopefully some of it will become exhibits somewhere like the Kensington Science Museum. The original turbines although badged as Parsons, a formerly British company based in Newcastle (since absorbed by Siemens) were in fact a GEC/AEI design, and they were not without their problems in their early days, but as with all large plant of its kind became more reliable as time went on. Indeed viewed by many as something of a dinosaur and an eyesore Didcot A became a very important feature not only in contributing to the national grid, but also the local economy, at times a major player in both. The world and its pollution fears is a long way from where these stations were at first envisaged by the Wilson government who saw the need to build them all around the UK, many very similar to Didcot and those inland mostly had 8 cooling towers not the six which often it is said compromised the stations output, whether that is correct or not I don't know. One thing is for sure, the station has fulfilled its purpose and helped the nation through some cold winters, provided power for all and employment and wealth for more than a few in many walks of life. The station may go, but the pylons, towers or call them what you do, will remain probably for some years yet, a reminder of what was Didcot A. the wizard

10:46pm Wed 19 Sep 12

Megs says...

Wizard, you know a lot about this site. Is it true that the rubbble from the cooling towers will be necessary to fill the turbine pits?
Wizard, you know a lot about this site. Is it true that the rubbble from the cooling towers will be necessary to fill the turbine pits? Megs

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