Cockenzie Power Station towers to be demolished

ITS landmark twin towers have dominated the skyline of East Lothian for almost half a century.

The twin chimneys and turbine hall at Cockenzie Power Station will be demolished tomorrow

Even those who have never worked at Cockenzie Power Station have grown up in its shadow.

And tomorrow at high noon they will gather in their thousands, from Portobello to Prestonpans, to watch a moment in history.

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There will be mixed emotions as the towering stacks and turbine hall tumble down in a controlled explosion that will transform the coastline forever.

The twin chimneys and turbine hall at Cockenzie Power Station will be demolished tomorrow

For some the loss will be too painful to watch, while for others the demolition is long overdue, the end of an eyesore.

Craig Yorkston worked at the station for almost 30 years and is now helping with its destruction.

The 51-year-old environmental co-ordinator, who lives in Cockenzie harbour, said: “There’s some excitement because it’s a one-off, but a lot of former colleagues and friends are going to miss the stacks because they are so prominent, they have become part of the community.

“There are those who hate the towers with a passion and those who love them. There are people who watched them being built, who will watch them come down.

“For me, they are a symbol of home but they are also redundant. They have done what they were designed to do and it would be pointless and costly to keep them.”

But one of his friends is so upset that she will not be leaving the house tomorrow and has likened the loss of the towers to a bereavement.

Meanwhile, spectators will be seeking vantage points along the coast while boats are expected to arrive in numbers in the Forth.

An exclusion zone will be in place from 9am and safety restrictions will cover the Greenhills, sections of Edinburgh Road and the John Muir Way, extended into the Forth.

The restrictions mean viewing areas in the immediate vicinity of the power station will be limited and traffic restrictions will also be in place from 7am.

George Camps, demolition project manager, said: “Our number one objective is to bring them down safely. We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Donald McCulloch, who won a charity raffle organised by the Longnidddry and District Rotary Club, has the honour of pressing the button to get the demolition under way.

The chimneys have each been drilled with 1500 holes, packed with explosives to ensure the chimneys fall inwards together.

As the chimney stacks are clearly visible from many locations, Police Scotland, Scottish Power and East Lothian Council, have recommended viewers make plans to get a good vantage point.

Following demolition, a second controlled explosion will be initiated to collapse the turbine hall structure.

The demolition will be undertaken by Brown & Mason, who have successfully managed similar projects for Scottish Power in recent years at Inverkip Power Station and Methil Power Station.

It has suggested the site could be transformed into a Scottish “Tate Modern” with performance space, shops and a swimming pool. Energy park plans were abandoned.

A weighty question

The concrete chimneys built in time for the coal station’s opening in 1967 stand almost 490ft tall and weight around 3000 tonnes each.

The turbine house is 720ft long and more than 130ft high and contains around 10,000 tonnes of metal.

The station generated more than 150 Terawatt Hours of electricity in its 45-year working life, enough to power more than one million homes annually.

The station has employed 10,000 people, most of them from the area.