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Poolbeg chimneys ‘may need to be encased in fibreglass or concrete’

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The Poolbeg Towers

The Poolbeg Towers

The Poolbeg Towers

The Poolbeg chimneys in Dublin may be encased in fibreglass or concrete to prevent structural issues in the future, according to Dublin City Council.

Since 2015, the ESB have discussed the need to protect the now iconic chimneys which have become a staple of Dublin’s skyline. A steel cap has already been placed on top of each chimney since then.

The caps prevented rain from entering but otherwise did not change their look - this may not be the case with the proposed enclosures, according to a report in the Irish Times.

Green Party councillor Claire Byrne asked Dublin City Council about placing the chimneys on the Record of Protected Structures, to which she was told the ESB have a maintenance programme in place for the structures since their decommissioning.

“The ESB state that in order to prevent further deterioration of the chimneys, steel caps were erected in 2015 and that the ongoing cost of the maintenance programme, which includes the removal of hazardous material and the decarbonising of the inner thermal lining, will run to several million euro, and that this will secure the chimneys in the medium term,” the council said.

In 2017, ESB gave a written commitment for 10 years to maintain the chimneys. The red and white chimneys, standing at 207m tall, were built in the 1970s and only had a planned lifespan of 30-40 years. As such, the power plant ceased production over 10 years ago with both chimneys being decommissioned officially in 2006 and 2010.

Dublin City Council added that in order to maintain the chimneys, it: “may give rise to the need for the structures to be encased in a new concrete or fibreglass casing”.

“These interventions are likely to alter the appearance and integrity of the structures as originally designed. ESB is concerned that adding the chimneys to the Record of Protected Structures will not provide any additional security to that provided under the maintenance programme, and may actively impede any ongoing structural interventions or necessary external cladding in the future.”

An ESB spokesman said that if fibreglass is used, it would most likely only be used to encase certain sections of the chimney instead of the entire structure. However, the ESB did not give an exact figure as to how much it would cost to maintain the towers beyond “seven million euro”.

While the chimneys are not being used, the actual site itself is continuing to be used as an operational power station. A gas turbine combined with a cycle plant generates electricity for over 500,000 homes in Dublin and the surrounding area.

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