Barrage could transform town's fortunes - expert

PUBLISHED: 05:40 14 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:52 24 May 2010

THE authorities have their head in the sand when it comes to a massive potential engineering scheme on Weston's doorstep, according to an expert. Veteran marine engineer Don Sutherland says a barrage scheme from Brean Sands to Wales, proposed by among oth

THE authorities have their head in the sand when it comes to a massive potential engineering scheme on Weston's doorstep, according to an expert.Veteran marine engineer Don Sutherland says a barrage scheme from Brean Sands to Wales, proposed by among others business consortium Severn Tidal Power Group, could solve all Weston's flood defence problems as well as bringing tourist-friendly clear sea water.But while the authorities in Wales are busy selling the idea to movers and shakers, nothing is being done by North Somerset Council to have its say, said Mr Sutherland, of Eastcombe Road, Weston.Mr Sutherland, a consultant for the Association of Severn Estuary Responsible Authorities and the North Somerset Water Safety Committee, said: "There is a gift horse coming along which could be one of the world's most important construction projects. We should be finding out what its potential is."I don't know of any consideration being given to it by our local authority or representatives."Wales has already decided and is promoting it and is backing it. Senior politicians at the Welsh Assembly are speaking in support of the potential economic and quality of life benefits of the scheme."A barrage would undoubtedly give tremendous protection to everything inside the Severn Estuary. "It probably is worth spending money on sea defences now though, because it could take 20 years for a barrage to be in place. There's a huge hinterland of properties along the seafront that need protection."It would also cause the tide to stay higher and sediment to drop and the water to become as clear as it is at Minehead."The Environment Agency has said it is against a barrage. It has hundreds of engineers involved in designing flood works and the construction of this barrage would negate the need for them. It prefers generating swamplands rather than hard barriers to stop floodwaters."North Somerset Council's planning and transport chief, Councillor John Crockford-Hawley, said: "The council hasn't been doing anything because it's not in North Somerset, though it would clearly have an impact on us."This is a scheme that would take 20 years to complete. There is no chance we would miss out on consultation for it."If the Government began to consider it as a serious option then we would clearly become involved.

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