Four cooling towers at the record-breaking Ferrybridge Power Station have been demolished in a “significant milestone in the history of the UK energy industry”.
Parts of West Yorkshire came to a standstill as the landmark towers, at the junction of the A1(M) and M62 motorways, collapsed in a controlled explosion.
Around 100 homes were evacuated around the site during the demolition and people gathered on roadsides and in nearby fields to watch the blowdown.
Roads were closed and rolling road blocks were used on the motorways as the towers were collapsed.
Spectators in nearby Pontefract watched in the rain as the four 114-metre-high towers collapsed in huge clouds of dust in a demolition that took around 10 seconds.
Ferrybridge C, in West Yorkshire, provided the UK with energy for 50 years until its owners, energy company SSE, made the decision to close the coal-fired power station in March 2016.
Sunday’s demolition comes after another of Ferrybridge’s eight cooling towers was brought down in July when Tower Six collapsed in a controlled explosion.
The final three towers are being retained in case a decision is taken to use the ground for a new gas-fired power station.
Drew McAdam, head of demolition at SSE, said: “The removal of these four cooling towers will be the single biggest blowdown event in the three-year demolition project at the site.”
Mr McAdam continued: “Ferrybridge C proudly produced electricity for 50 years and its decommissioning and demolition is a significant milestone in the history of the UK energy industry.
“As the UK looks to take action on climate change, SSE is committed to supporting the low-carbon transition with a core focus on renewable energy.”
Ferrybridge C opened in 1966 and became the first power station in Europe to succeed in generating electricity from a 500-megawatt machine.
The station made the record books again in 1973 when one of the generators set a world record by running non-stop for 5,448 hours, generating 2,999 gigawatt hours.
SSE decided to shut down the power station as it was believed to have no longer been economical.
The demolition activities at the site are expected to be fully completed by summer 2021 and are part of SSE’s ongoing transition to a low-carbon energy future, in line with the UK’s ambition for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The company has committed to further reducing the carbon intensity of the electricity it generates by 50% by 2030.