Power station's demise 'a destruction of British engineering’

Lyn Bowen with Didcot power station in the background

Lyn Bowen with Didcot power station in the background

First published in News by

THE engineer responsible for turning Didcot A power station both on and off does not want to witness it being blown up, believing the environmental strategy behind its closure is flawed.

“The answer is no. I want to be as far away from it as possible,” said Lyn Bowen.

“I suppose locals see it as a spectacle. I see it as destruction of British engineering.”

Didcot residents are expected to rise early to watch the dawn explosion on Sunday, July 27, when the three southern cooling towers are due to come down in the first phase of demolition.

As reported in yesterday’s Oxford Mail, RWE npower has refused to disclose the specific time three of the six iconic towers will be demolished in an attempt to minimise the number of onlookers.

The three remaining towers will be demolished at a later date.

Mr Bowen, 74, from East Hanney, near Wantage, remains bitterly disappointed at the decommissioning of the power station, which had been a large part of his life for 23 years.

The father-of-two worked there as a charge engineer until 1993, when he retired.

In March last year, he returned briefly to switch off Didcot A for good, giving an emotional thumbs-down signal to staff members. It was a poignant moment, as almost 43 years earlier Mr Bowen had switched on the power station in September, 1970.

Didcot A closed as part of a nationwide switch to gas-fired power stations, which are less environmentally damaging, and gas-fired Didcot B power station remains.

The move is the result of a European Union directive to lower carbon emissions, but Mr Bowen disputes the policy’s benefits.

“We need these power stations. We’ve got ourselves in a bit of a hole,” he said.

“Coal-fired power stations should never close down.”

Mr Bowen believes the UK should not have wound down its coal-mining industry, as there is “plenty of coal left” underground.

“It’s a shame, as the coal used at Didcot was coming from Siberia,” he said.

He regards nuclear power as dangerous and estimates it would take 2,300 wind turbines to generate the same amount of electricity that Didcot A supplied.

“It’s all political, I’m afraid,” he added.

“I haven’t stopped campaigning with politicians to get my view across.”

Didcot’s three southern cooling towers will be demolished next month, followed by more explosions to clear the site over the next two years.

The main buildings are to be blown up in 2015, and the northern cooling towers dismantled in 2016.

Meanwhile, Birmingham-based Coleman & Company, which is contracted to demolish the power station, announced the firm has commissioned six large demolition specification excavators from Liebherr Great Britain for the project.

Coleman & Company chose Liebherr, which it has worked with in the past, after consulting with four manufacturers.

Managing director Mark Coleman said Libherr was the only manufacturer that was able to meet all of his firm’s requirements, and that Liebherr was a leader in the production of bespoke demolition equipment.

Coleman & Company is one of the UK’s largest demolition contractors.

The Didcot demolition includes six 325ft cooling towers, office blocks, boilers, a turbine hall and a 200-metre chimney.

Clowes Developments (UK) Ltd, which has struck a deal with npower to buy a large part of the site, has been told it should concentrate on using the land for business.

Clowes said some of the land could be used for housing.

But Vale of White Horse District Council leader Matthew Barber and members of Didcot Town Council have said they think the site should be used for businesses. Mr Barber said a lot of work would have to be done at the site before any building work could start.

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Comments (1)

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10:07pm Wed 25 Jun 14

EMBOX2 says...

Spot on Lyn. It should have been mothballed and kept as ultimate backup for when (and if) Putin/China decide to cause trouble.
Spot on Lyn. It should have been mothballed and kept as ultimate backup for when (and if) Putin/China decide to cause trouble. EMBOX2
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