Didcot A… RIP

Today is the end of an era, for at 2pm (14:00z) Didcot A power station is to be switched off. No more the iconic cooling towers belching steam and the giant chimney belching… well, less pleasant things and 20 countries worth of CO2 if you believe the Greenpeace propaganda. Maybe that was true at one time (I certainly remember soot-blackened net curtains when I first moved here in the early 90s (what idiot town planner puts a power station on the West side of a town when the prevailing wind comes from the West? That’s a decision worthy of a smack round the back of the head if ever I saw one), but that hasn’t happened for some time now.

Picture: Dave Price, 2006. CC-BY-SA-2.0

According to good old Wikipedia, it was voted the country’s third worst eyesore by Country Life readers in 2003. Well, a pox on them, I say. The towers have become a part of the landscape; a beacon (although admittedly not a shining one) and symbol of home. Visible from miles around, they are great for navigation – cresting a hill in the car as I drive home and seeing the towers in the distance always brings a smile to my face. Even from the air; I’ve seen them in a little rented Piper from as far away as Bromsgrove or Southampton at around 3000ft, and even in the back of a 777 coming back from the U.S. (and thought ironically that if only I had a parachute, I could be home in minutes instead of hours…)

So, in an age of escalating energy prices, when we as a nation have barely enough generating capacity for our current needs yet alone the future (Ofgem issued yet another warning of an approaching power crisis earlier this week), gas supplies at a critically low level, a government with its fingers in its ears over the necessity of building new power stations, we shut down another one. Hope you’ve got a good stock of candles…

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