EXPLOSIVES blew up part of the former Fawley power station this morning (Thursday) in the first major demolition paving the way for a planned 1,500 homes.
Contractors brought down with a bang the roof of the main structure containing the turbine hall and the deaerator building at 10am.
The plan is for the walls to stay up as a barrier between the shoreline and further work on site before they are taken down in stages with machinery later.
In March next year explosives will also destroy the boilers, and the 650ft chimney will finally be toppled next September.
A date for the saucer-shaped control building has not been set but the overall demolition is scheduled for completion in 2021.
As reported in the A&T, New Forest District Council gave the green light to the work in May – despite some councillors promising a “fight” to protect the landmark chimney, which an earlier plan had proposed it be transformed into a sky-high restaurant.
Aldred Drummond, local landowner and chief executive of developer Fawley Waterside Ltd, said: “This first explosive event marks the end of an era. Sixty years ago this site was developed from mudflats into the world’s most efficient oil-fired power station.
“A totem of human ingenuity, supposedly a triumph over nature through the might of fossil fuelled power. A notably impressive building which served its purpose.
“Now a gentler transition is planned by replacing the monumental power station with one of the most beautiful small towns in England.”
He added: “I want this to be a treasured place with a dramatically positive impact on the Waterside through the provision of homes and employment opportunities.”
The demolition contractor is Brown and Mason which over the last two years at the 300-acre site has stripped out machinery from inside the main buildings and cleared infrastructure around the chimney.
Yesterday’s explosion involved an exclusion zone enforced around the site, with sentries and the police patrolling the boundary.
The location is famous for starring as the backdrop in blockbuster films Solo: A Star Wars Story and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.
The power station was commissioned in 1971 and ceased operations in 2013. It was bought for £30m in 2015 by Fawley Waterside Ltd, a consortium led by Mr Drummond.
It said it held two public information sessions about the demolition in Calshot and Fawley in August, which were attended by nearly 100 people.
Two outline planning applications for redevelopment of the power station site are currently being considered by both NFDC and the national park authority. A decision is expected in early 2020.