How to watch the Rugeley Power Station cooling towers being demolished this weekend

Tune in to the Express & Star's website this weekend to witness the end of an era as the Rugeley Power Station's four colossal cooling towers are demolished.

Roads including the A51 will be closed as the cooling towers are demolished at Rugeley Power Station
Roads including the A51 will be closed as the cooling towers are demolished at Rugeley Power Station

Eyes will be on Rugeley on Sunday morning when the unmistakeable structures are reduced to rubble, to make way for homes and a school.

The moment the towers are blown up will be shown live on expressandstar.com from about 11am on Sunday, with spectators warned to stay away and watch online.

But why is it happening now, and what will become of the site when the towers are gone? This explainer answers some frequently asked questions about the demolition.

When will the cooling towers be demolished?

The demolition will begin at 11.15am on Sunday, June 6. It had originally been scheduled for 11am, but has been pushed back 15 minutes to accommodate for a planned D-day commemoration event at the nearby National Memorial Arboretum.

Why are people being told to stay away?

There will be no public viewing facilities and anyone who would like to watch the demolition is asked to do so online – large gatherings are discouraged under Covid rules.

Chief Inspector Becky Hyde from West Midlands Police said: “In line with latest coronavirus restrictions, residents are not encouraged to attend in order to help protect themselves and others from the virus. Anyone who wishes to watch the demolition can do so online and this is the safest way to spectate the event."

Where is the exclusion zone?

To protect everyone on the site and nearby, an exclusion zone will be in place before, during and immediately after the demolition. The exclusion zone will extend along the A51 between the Trent Valley roundabout and the new Hawkesyard Estate roundabout from 5.30am on Sunday. A diversion will be signposted and it is hoped that the closures will be lifted by midday.

The demolition has been delayed by 15 minutes to avoid clashing with a minute's silence on the D-Day anniversary

How long has the power station been there?

The station ceased all operations on June 8, 2016, 60 years after work first started on the site. Construction of the Rugeley A Power Station began in 1956, with the site chosen due to the availability of land, water, coal and transport links. Rugeley A Power Station was opened up in 1963 whilst the Rugeley B Power Station was commissioned in 1970 and was opened in 1972 on the sprawling site. But in January 1991 the Lea Hall colliery was closed down, meaning all the coal burned in the stations needed to be delivered by rail. The closure of the A station began in 1994 and was completed the following year ahead of its demolition in 1996.

Meanwhile, in July 1996, the B station was bought by Eastern Generation – which itself was acquired by TXU Europe. It was subsequently sold off and changed hands, with an idea being formed in March 2012 to potentially convert the station to run using biomass fuel. A year later the proposals were scrapped.

Why are the towers being demolished now?

In 2016 it was finally announced that the remaining station would shut for good, as owners ENGIE blamed a deterioration in market conditions which included a fall in market prices and increasing carbon costs. It ceased all operations in June and decommissioning soon started – with the demolition of the turbine hall and boiler house taking place between November 2019 and August the following year.

In all there have been eight demolition events, with Sunday's to be the ninth. ENGIE hopes that the full clearance of the site will be completed by the end of the year as part of its plans to redevelop the area.

What will happen to the site next?

Earlier this year ENGIE was granted outline planning permission from the local authorities to transform the power station site into a sustainable mixed-use development of 2,300 low carbon homes including employment space, parkland, and a new all-through school. Remediation work is expected to be complete by winter next year as part of the Rugeley 'master-plan' which includes more than 12 acres of employment space.

There will also be trails for running, walking and cycling in addition to sports facilities including cricket, hockey, tennis and football pitches, with a new country park – Riverside Park – being created.

The new school is expected to open its doors in September 2023, and will be run by the John Taylor Multi Academy Trust.

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