Ironbridge residents to get just 48 hours notice of cooling towers demolition

Residents will have just 48 hours notice before the iconic Ironbridge cooling towers are blown up, it has been revealed.

The Ironbridge cooling towers
The Ironbridge cooling towers

Developer Harworth Group said it was hoping to avoid turning the demolition into an attraction, bringing in people from across the country, so that a 350-metre exclusion zone could be safely maintained.

But areas to view the towers coming down will be put in place a safe distance away for locals who would like to see the landmark moment.

Although no date has been selected, Harworth recommitted to trying to get the demolition done before the end of the year.

Iain Thomson, head of communications at Harworth, said: "Forty-eight hours is fairly typical based on what we've done elsewhere. Some people might say that's not a lot of time, and I can understand that to a degree.

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"We don't want to create a huge free-for-all of people descending on Ironbridge. We have to protect the integrity of the 350-metre exclusion zone."

Mr Thomson said people in and around the Ironbridge area would be getting further communication about the demolition of the towers in the coming week.

Residents will be told more about the exclusion zone, and will be given their chance to voice any concerns or let Harworth know about any requirements ahead of the demolition.

That could include help removing animals from fields within the exclusion zone or other similar accessibility issues.

"In an ideal scenario, we are looking for the towers to come down for this year," Mr Thomson said.

"It depends on how the test blast goes and whether the statutory agencies are happy with the plans. For the final demolition, you need to get appropriate levels of sign-off.

A key local event

"It would be great to do it this year, but we've got to make sure hurdles are cleared in terms of regulation and making sure everything is safe, secure and ready."

In a document sent out to residents, Harworth said: "An exclusion zone will be enforced around the site on the day of demolition for the protection of both site staff and residents, viewing close to the site will be restricted.

We appreciate however that the demolition of the towers is a key local event for residents close to the site and as a result, we are working with key groups including both Shropshire and Telford councils to identify establish safe viewing areas ahead of intended demolition.

"Properties inside the exclusion zone will be contacted in person."

Work started to tear down the power station, including the cooling towers, earlier this year. Three test blasts have been carried out in preparation for the demolition, including one yesterday.

Hundreds of homes will be built on the site of the former Ironbridge Power Station, with other options including leisure facilities, shops and a hotel in the works.

It is expected that the full project could take 15 years to complete.

The Harworth Group bought the power station from Uniper in June last year.

Former Ironbridge Gorge borough councillor Nicola Lowery, who was involved in the development of the site since 2015, said: “To see the cooling towers come down under controlled explosion will be quite the spectacle and something many will be keen to see.

"It is only right that these iconic structures that have played such a significant part in our history have a celebratory and spectacular ending, which is why I am pleased that Harworth appear to be making every effort to ensure our community is involved in this once in a lifetime opportunity."

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