DEMOLITION bosses have warned people to stay away from the destruction of Didcot power station cooling towers, saying people could end up covered in dust.
At the same time, however, talks are under way to provide official viewing areas for people to watch the blast.
The 325ft towers will be blown up during the early hours of Sunday, July 27.
Energy firm RWE npower says the towers –the first three of six to be demolished – will come down between 3am and 5am and so far has refused to switch the time to 6am, despite a campaign from residents and a letter from MP Ed Vaizey.
Demolition firm Coleman and Company will livestream the Didcot A towers being blasted. Mark Coleman, managing director, said it was industry best practice not to make “an event” out of a high-explosive demolition, due to uncertainty regarding the fall-out of dust and debris.
Mr Coleman said: “The British standard for demolition is clear and tells us we should never encourage people to come to a demolition event and we should do whatever we can to discourage people from coming.”
RWE npower spokesman Kelly Brown said: “There could be dust associated with the demolition and it’s weather-dependent on where it settles. But we know people will find their own locations to watch.”
Guy Esnouf, RWE npower’s director of communications, added that the Health and Safety Executive, Thames Valley Police and Network Rail had advised that the early morning time was the right time for the demolition.
He added: “We have 180kg of high explosive – that is an awful lot. Safety has to come first.”
Vale of White Horse District Council leader Matthew Barber said the council is talking to the Earth Trust, which runs beauty spot Wittenham Clumps, about creating an official viewing area there.
Taylor Wimpey has already agreed to provide a veiwing area on Great Western Park, off the A4130, where there is also a good view of the towers.
Tim Betts, managing director of Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire, said those planning to come would need to park off-site and walk as roads will be closed to all except residents.
Mr Barber said: “It’s disappointing that npower has taken this stance.
“The demolition is taking place on private land, but people are very interested in it because the towers have dominated the skyline for more than 40 years.”
Earth Trust chief executive Jayne Manley said Wittenham Clumps would provide an excellent vantage point.
She added: “We could open our festival field as a car park, but we would need a stewarding company to manage the event, and we would have to provide some portable toilets so we would ask the Vale council to see if it would cover the cost, at least £3,000.”
Road closures will be in place for the demolition on part of Milton Park and Purchas Road and there will be a 300-metre exclusion zone in place.
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