Decommissioning the Twentieth Century:

Energy Landscapes, Heritage and Community

This Project aims to establish a new role for local communities in decommissioning large industrial facilities.This Project aims to establish a new role for local communities in decommissioning large industrial facilities.

As the UK aims to achieve a zero-carbon economy, one impact will be to transform of much of the UK’s 20th century energy infrastructure – a change comparable to the end of coal mining.

Decommissioning the Twentieth Century, and its sister project, Planning Creativity will examine how techniques and knowledge from the Arts and Humanities can inform more genuine community involvement in what happens to sites in which many have invested much of their lives.

Residents at the heart of decommissioning will define and produce the outcomes of the project. It brings together communities connected to three sites:

• Chatterley Whitfield Colliery near Stoke on Trent

• Power station near Southampton

• 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.

west burton Waites
West Burton Waites

Fawley Power Station from Jack Maynard Road
Fawley Power Station from Jack Maynard Road

We are working with a range of community partners, artists and other local groups to co-produce a reflexive set of reflections and creative outputs from the workshops. Our main partners are: Friends of Chatterley Whitfield, Friends of the New Forest, and Gainsborough Heritage Association. Read about our partners here.

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. Places can create meaning for a community through both their physical and visual presence – all the three sites which are the focus of this project have become established landmarks for their surrounding area, and over time their presence has led to a perception of familiarity and attachment.

This project will involve relevant local heritage bodies associated with these sites, building an inter-community network which will collectively explore communal feeling towards these sites as they approach the end of their operational lives. These communities can provide crucial experience, expertise and knowledge about the possibilities, pitfalls and opportunities for community ownership of decommissioning processes and their outcomes.

The central activities and outputs of this project are:

  • Three workshops, one at each site, each workshop will use iterative and creative methods to build on the experience of the previous ones.
  • A Policy Paper for planning professionals, heritage organisations and politicians on what the new process of engagement in decommissioning should look like.

The academic team are:

Dr Ben Anderson (Principal Investigator, Keele University), Dr Katrina Navickas (University of Hertfordshire), Dr Ceri Morgan (Keele University), Professor Matthew Kelly (Northumbria University), and Dr Ian Waites (University of Lincoln).

Project website: https://chatterleywhitfield.online/
Project partners’ websites:
https://chatterleywhitfieldfriends.org.uk/
https://www.gainsboroughheritage.co.uk/
https://newforestassociation.org/
Link to the project page on the UKRI Gateway to Research https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=AH%2FT005971%2F1