Ironbridge Power Station (3)

I wrote in January and in May this year about the closure of Ironbridge Power Station. Plans are already underway for demolition of “conveyors 6 and 7 and associated structures” this autumn.

At the end of last week Shropshire Council posted an application for the demolition of:

“Zone 1 – four, natural draft, hyperbolic cooling towers and the cooling water supply channels and pipework;

Zone 2 – the turbine hall and boiler house, electrostatic precipitators, chimney and admin block including adjacent workshops and stores;

Zone 3 – the auxiliary boiler and associated tanks, and the area of land previously used for contractor welfare during outages;

Zone 4 – two heavy fuel oil (HFO) tanks and the water treatment plant, the main site gatehouse, sewage treatment plant, storage buildings; and

Zone 5 – biomass store, coal stock conveyors, coal plant stores and workshop, the sports pavilion and bungalow”

So, the iconic turbine hall, cooling towers and chimney will disappear in due course, as was expected. Decommissioning of the site is apparently almost complete and full demolition of the main power station site is anticipated to commence in Spring 2018. The demolition operations will take approximately 36 months to complete.

The owner, Uniper has assumed that there will be a need for a maximum of seven controlled detonations at the site during the demolition period. These controlled detonations would be used to demolish the cooling towers, chimney stack, boiler house, precipitators and gas turbine hall. The cooling towers demolition involves the strategic placement of explosive material and timing of the detonation so that the structure collapses in a matter of seconds.

The findings of the underlying ground conditions encountered around the cooling towers will have to be submitted to Telford & Wrekin Council for agreement and this will be reported to Shropshire Council. This especially important because the Severn Gorge is notoriously unstable. There will obviously be a noise impact associated with the use of explosives for controlled detonations. The company says the impact will be temporary and very short-term (1 to 2 seconds for the initial explosion and 3 to 10 seconds for the structure to fall to the ground).

I have been working closely with Shropshire Councillor Claire Wild in whose Severn Valley electoral division the power station is situated. We have stressed that Uniper should keep the local community and its councils up to date with the progress of the demolition operations on site and will advise them of the use of explosives.

Some people had expressed interest in the future of the cooling towers. They had been proposed for listed building status in September 2010 but, after careful consideration by English Heritage, it was concluded that the plant and cooling towers did not warrant listing. English Heritage confirmed this decision in a further review in 2014.

There are a number of designated habitat sites near the demolition area. The demolition location is adjacent to a number of sensitive sites, including Tick Wood and Benthall Edge Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Careful consideration must be given to ensure that the demolition works do not adversely affect these.

It is inevitable that the demolition works will generate dust, noise, vibration, traffic movements and waste materials. While these are matters for concern, most of them will not affect Much Wenlock residents, but I remain concerned about the possibility of heavy vehicle movements through the town on the A4169. I am also alert to any disruption that Wenlock commuters might experience en route to Telford, the M54, and points beyond.

The application to demolish is contained in no fewer than 25 documents on Shropshire Council’s website under reference 17/04439/DEM. I hope I have summarised the issues that will be of interest to most readers – there’s plenty more to read if you have a thirst for knowledge!