Cockenzie Power station demolition gets under way

Cockenzie's chimneys have little time left, but tomorrow's demolition will take down two mighty metal structures that helped scrub dangerous particles from gases as coal burned over 45 years. Picture: Sean Bell
Cockenzie's chimneys have little time left, but tomorrow's demolition will take down two mighty metal structures that helped scrub dangerous particles from gases as coal burned over 45 years. Picture: Sean Bell
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One of the east coast’s most distinctive landmarks is going out with a bang as demolition work begins at Cockenzie Power Station.

A controlled explosion will bring down two 300-tonne, 34-metre high steel precipitator structures tomorrow, marking the end of an era.

Decommissioning work at the station began in April, following Cockenzie’s closure after 45 years of operation the previous month.

It will take 18 months to turn the entire power station to rubble, with its iconic pair of chimneys scheduled to be demolished early next year.

An exclusion zone will be set up before tomorrow’s 2pm blast after safety plans for bringing down the giant gas filters were drawn up by ScottishPower, East Lothian Council and Police Scotland.

Roads around the power station will remain open and no official plans have been put in place for spectators – although those who want to watch have been asked to congregate on the Greenhills.

A section of the John Muir Way will be shut temporarily.

George Camps, project manager at ScottishPower, said: “Decommissioning work at Cockenzie has been progressing well, and the focus up until now has been on removing internal kit from the turbine hall.

“Working with [demolition specialists] Brown and Mason we have concluded that the most effective way to demolish the steel structures is by controlled explosion.

“We have been working very closely with the local authority and the police to ensure that the event is planned safely.

“It is programmed that the remaining 14 precipitator structures will also be removed by explosive demolition, and we will look to plan these events in the coming months.”

Cockenzie shut down its four turbines early on March 15 – a move which accelerated the coal-powered giant’s decommissioning phase by several weeks. The 100 staff it employed either retired, accepted a severance package or moved to other roles.

The Evening News told recently how the Prestonpans community was hoping to join forces with residents in Cockenzie and Port Seton to plan a fitting farewell to East Lothian’s most prominent landmark.

Prestonpans Community Council chair James Yule said: “It will be a sad day when the chimneys go, they’re a local landmark, you see them and think of home. When we get the final date we plan to have a celebration and bid farewell.”

THANKS A MILLION

COCKENZIE Power Station generated enough electricity to power the average annual needs of more than a million homes every year during its 45 years. When it opened in 1967, it was the largest power station in Britain. Owner ScottishPower closed it because it failed to comply with new environmental laws.