Possibility of bats and peregrine falcons delay an explosive end to 85m chimney stacks

The possibility of bats or peregrine falcons using them as a habitat, has delayed the demolition of two 85m chimneys in the former Saxon brickworks site at King’s Dyke, Whittlesey.

The company who owns the site had hoped to have both chimneys blown up in the New Year.

But those proposals are on hold until an ecological survey is carried out.

A structural survey has already recommended that the chimneys be demolished on safety grounds.

“The proposal is the controlled explosive demolition of the two chimneys,” says East Midlands Waste Management Ltd in their application to the county council.

But the county council has now delayed their proposals whilst the survey is carried out.

“The county planning authority cannot be satisfied that there would not be a material adverse effect on the protected species”, says a letter from Emma Fitch, the council’s joint interim assistant director (environment and commercial).

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She told them that the method of demolition would fail to satisfy requirements.

And she said there was insufficient evidence of an ecological survey to ensure the protection of European Protected Species.

The company’s demolition proposals – that included an exclusion zone to enable nitro-glycerine explosive charges to be laid- are now on hold.

Five minutes prior to demolition explosive engineers will sound a warning – two short klaxon blasts.

Immediately prior to demolition they will sound a final warning – third short klaxon blasts.

Then a shot is fired “and structure collapses” says a report to the council.

“Spectators will be kept well clear,” the council was assured. And the explosives company will evacuate properties within the exclusion zone prior to detonation.

A three-hour timetable, with a proposed start time of 6am, has been put forward.

The materials from the demolition at the Saxon brickworks in Whittlesey Road will be segregated, crushed on site, processed, graded and recycled.

Historic England says the Saxon pit has been serving brickworks for over 100 years “and the chimneys are iconic on the skyline, representing a long-standing industry in the area”.

“In addition, as several buildings associated with the manufacturing process were demolished in the early C21, along with the kilns, their functional relationship within the wider industrial landscape has been denuded.”

However, the council’s historic environment team note that Whittlesey is defined by its brickworks, the architecture of the industrial buildings and iconic chimney stacks.

“The industrial heritage of Whittlesey should, therefore not be overlooked by applications seeking to redevelop an important industrial landscape and demolish structural elements of the tangible historic environment,” it says.

The team is recommending that work is undertaken ahead of demolition to record the historic land use before it is altered.

“The demolition of the remaining chimney stacks constitutes the total loss of an undesignated heritage asset,” it concludes.

It is expected that a photographic record of the chimneys prior to, during and following demolition will be made for future generations to consider.