Decommissioning the Twentieth Century

January 14, 2020 |

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Decommissioning the Twentieth Century is an AHRC-funded project that aims to establish a new role for local communities in decommissioning large industrial facilities.

One impact of a zero-carbon economy will be a transformation of much of the UK’s twentieth-century energy infrastructure - a change comparable to the end of coal mining. This project will examine how techniques and knowledge from the Arts and Humanities can inform more genuine and successful community involvement in what happens to sites in which many have invested much of their lives.

This project is led by academics, but those at the heart of decommissioning will define and produce its outcomes. It brings together communities connected to three sites – Chatterley Whitfield Colliery near Stoke, Fawley Power station near Southampton, and West Burton Power station near Gainsborough. These sites are the past, present and future of decommissioning, and each provides crucial experience, expertise and knowledge about the possibilities, pitfalls and opportunities for community ownership of decommissioning processes and their outcomes.

Our vision is to seek a means by which local people and communities might be involved in decommissioning right from – and even before – the start, so that these sites become places for their communities. This means seeking ways to collect and express memories, connections and meanings before such sites are closed, demolished, or subject to new plans and developments.

We will hold three two-day workshops, one at each site, over 2020-1, each workshop building on the experience of the last. We have lots of ideas, but those at the workshops will tell us what should be added, refined, or ditched. Collectively, we will produce a Policy Paper for planning professionals, heritage organisations and politicians on what the new process should look like.

Project Leader – Ben Anderson:

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