Mud settles and then builds up

MAY I add my two cents to tohe barrage debate.

MAY I add my two cents to tohe barrage debate. Having spent 25 years as a dredging officer with the Port of Bristol I claim to know a little bit about tides and mud in the Severn Estuary.

My dredger used to take out into the tideway in the region of 6 to 8 million tons a year from the harbour entrances. Where there is not much flow the mud settles and builds up. If this barrage impedes the flow of water then there will be a huge settlement and Weston will be the recipient of it. "Scouring" in the form of turbine inlets will not get rid of it. We'll be up to our eyeballs in mud in five to 10 years. If any body would like to see what happens when you have a barrage, they might like to nip along to Marine Lake. There is one there and whilst they have sluices, there seems to be an awful lot of mud!

The cost of dredging channels and keeping the mud down so that water can flow through the turbines would be huge and where are you going to put this mud when you have sucked it up? For those that think that once you reduce the flow, the water will be clear and the mud will sink and that's it: mud comes downriver and you'll never stop that.

Having also been a tug captain for six or seven years, if I may add a bit about ship handling. Just as a pilot lands his plane into the wind, so a ship has to stem the tide when docking. If they think that a ship is going to enter a lock with a four-five knot current behind them they are mistaken. Provision of locks in the barrage will mean turning circles to stem the tide and piers or breakwaters to 'snub' round. You don't put locks in line with currents. It's not the Kennet and Avon out there!

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Speaking of the proposed 'super highway', what happens when a 100,000 tonner crosses the road? There will have to be swing bridges and the stoppage of traffic for at least an hour at a time while the ship locks in and raises to levels and leaves the lock. Perhaps a bridge like they have in Tampa, Florida, would be better. In which case you wouldn't need locks and we're back where we started! I can't see it all working myself. To round off here is one for the scientists. When does an ebb tide end and a flood begin? If they go down off Bull Point at Appledore where it can best be seen, they will find the flood coming but 20 foot down it is still going out. Work that one into the equation!


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Meadow Villas, Weston

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