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  1. ITV Report

Thousands of homes across Oxfordshire left without power after Didcot demolition

  • Video reports by ITV News Reporter Cary Johnston

Some 49,000 homes lost electricity moments after the demolition of the disused Didcot A cooling towers after a piece of debris hit an overhead electricity network.

The 375ft (114m) tall towers which have been a landmark on the Oxfordshire skyline since the 1960s were brought down using explosive charges at 7am on Sunday morning.

In a statement, SSEN said, "Initial investigations have confirmed that this morning's power cut was caused by material related to the demolition of Didcot Power Station striking our overhead electricity network."

During the demolition, a large section of debris protection material became detached from one of the cooling towers and made contact with our 33kV overhead line, which was outside of the advised perimeter. This resulted in significant damage to the overhead line and subsequent network faults.

We are in contact with the station owner, RWE, to support them in their incident investigation alongside our own internal review into the network fault.

SSEN takes its responsibility to public safety seriously. We are aware of reports of minor injuries and damage caused by the incident at Sutton Courtenay and are working with the police and other agencies to identify those impacted. We would ask anyone affected to contact us through the power cut helpline 105 so we can investigate further.

– SSEN Spokesperson

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Minutes after the demolition, nearby spectators filmed an electricity pylon on fire and thousands of homes lost power.

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After earlier saying the fault "wasn't linked to the demolition" Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) later released a statement confirming the power cut was caused by debris protection material striking an overhead electricity network outside the perimeter and causing "significant damage".

The statement continued: "We are aware of reports of minor injuries and damage caused by the incident at Sutton Courtenay and are working with the police and other agencies to identify those impacted."

49,000 homes were affected but power was restored to all properties by 8.20am.

The cooling towers at the disused coal-fired Didcot power station are demolished. Credit: PA

On February 23, 2016, four demolition workers were killed when part of the boiler house collapsed.

It took several months to recover the bodies of Michael Collings, Chris Huxtable, Ken Cresswell and John Shaw.

Thames Valley Police and the Health and Safety Executive had launched a joint investigation to consider corporate manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter and health and safety offences.

Michael Collings, Chris Huxtable, Ken Cresswell and John Shaw were killed when the boiler house collapsed in 2016. Credit: Credit: ITV Meridian

The coal-fired station was turned off in 2013 after 43 years in service.

Didcot's southern towers were demolished in 2014.

The power station's 655ft chimney will be demolished in the autumn.