Explosive demolition – Richborough Power Station

Demolition project background

Explosive demolition: Richborough Power Station started generating electricity in the earlier 1960’s, using coal from the Kent Coal Fields. It was converted in 1971 to burn oil, and then further converted in 1989 to use Orimulsion. Environmental concerns over the use of this new fuel eventually lead to the Power Station’s closure of the 360MW in 1996.

DDS Demolition was commissioned by Warrick Energy to undertake the demolition on numerous structures on the site in 2002 to facilitate the construction of the Thanet Offshore Wind farm Sub-station. These works consisted of the demolition of Transformer Bays, Switch Houses and Part of the Office Block.

BFL management tendered the demolition of the remaining structures in 2009, and DDS was selected after a lengthy tender evaluation process from which the explosive demolition took place in 2012.


  • Establish site welfare facilities suitable for the size and nature of the works in question.
  • Confirm removal and disposal of hazardous substances.
  • Assisting the client in gaining planning consent to demolish via the EIA application process
  • Carry out structural survey of the Turbine Hall.
  • Erection of new support steel work to the retained Turbine Hall structure.
  • Demolition of various infill and roof section to the Turbine Hall.
  • Removal of asbestos materials in a safe & controlled manner, in accordance with the Control of Asbestos regulations 2006.
  • Soft strip buildings of all fixtures, fitting and combustible materials.
  • Pumping out and discharging of 160,000,000 litres of water from ponds and underground chambers.
  • Progressively demolish remaining power station structures and ancillary buildings (16no.).
  •  Raze 1no. Chimney (127m) and 3no. Cooling towers (97m) to the ground by explosive means.
  • Materials sampling and testing to conform to the WRAP protocol and EA requirements
  • Processing and Crushing of 26,000 tons concrete and masonry arisings for reuse in the future development on site.
  • Installation of steel plates and fencing to open voids and pond to create a safe site
  • Leave site level, clean, safe and tidy on completion.

Achievements & Successes

  • The explosive demolition of the Cooling Towers and Chimney required careful and robust planning to formulate safe systems of work which mitigated risk to the greatest possible extent. The ‘blowdown day’ itself required:
  • The management of over 100 personnel.
  • Supervision of over 100 personnel.
  • 35 Man exclusion zone
  • Evacuation of 2No. of fuel stations and Subway restaurant
  • Three road blocks.
  • Two river blocks.
  • Three Roaming Marshalls.
  • Management of multiple press bodies including BBC, ITV, East-Kent Gazette and multiple trade bodies.
  • The 3no. Cooling towers and Chimney were demolished by the use of controlled explosions. The buildings and other ancillary structures were demolished using traditional mechanical methods – namely 360° excavators with a variety of Hydraulic Attachments.
  • The project was subject to the input of numerous stakeholders to the scheme; the two local authorities Thanet and Dover, the EA/ river authority, Thanet Offshore Wind,  UK Power Networks, Emergency Services, Manston International Airport, Pfizer, Subway, Solar Farm and TW Services . DDS oversaw the coordination of these parties throughout the project.
  • The demolition of the Cooling Towers and Chimney was a controversial issue, and received a lot of negative feedback from the local residents of the area who deemed them to be landmarks in their own right. Subsequently, a Resident Liaison Officer was appointed by DDS Demolition to handle the numerous queries that were directed to us daily.
  • Works were to be carefully schedules around bird migration seasons as to mitigate negative impact to the ecological interests the site held; the project demolition programme was rescheduled on an on-going basis to minimise the commercial costs of such delays.

Client Reference

“Although the works at Richborough were always complex, the severity of this wasn’t truly realised until works on site began. We encountered obstacles from the changing legislation within the planning department, ecology, third-party asset owners, local businesses, residents and the Environment Agency. DDS Demolition assisted far and beyond what could have been reasonably expected, and created a fantastic client-contractor relationship. I cannot recommend their services highly enough; I would not hesitate to employ them again.”