It involves crossing a 13-fathom trench

PUBLISHED: 09:27 20 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:01 24 May 2010

I HAVE always been interested in any projects to harness the great tidal energy of the Bristol Channel and so it was with great interest that I read on March 3 of Gareth Woodham's proposal for a tidal barrage. But why to Brean Down? Surely this is not a

I HAVE always been interested in any projects to harness the great tidal energy of the Bristol Channel and so it was with great interest that I read on March 3 of Gareth Woodham's proposal for a tidal barrage. But why to Brean Down? Surely this is not a good choice of landfall. Not only is it National Trust property with difficult access but it also involves crossing a 13-fathom deep trench off Howe Rock whereas further north over Langford Grounds the depth is seldom more than four fathoms except in The Newport Deep which is up to 12 fathoms deep and has to be crossed wherever the barrage is built.Although, as he points out, the barrage could have other advantages, which a nuclear station would not, as planned it would be inefficient due to the harmonic nature of tidal rise and fall and the impossibility of designing turbines which operate efficiently in both directions. The degree of inefficiency would depend upon method of operation. Only the three-basin scheme ameliorates the problems. This entails the construction of the Severn Barrage from New Passage to Sudbrook, mainly in shallow water and a central barrier between the two dams over the Middle and Welsh Grounds.The Severn Barrage could have easy access from existing facilities at Severn Beach or Pilning. From there further transportation could be by water. For road or rail traffic to use the barrage would require it to be enclosed as protection from severe storms or it will be frequently closed due to weather conditions, as are the Severn Bridges.The barrage could also incorporate wind and wave powered generators although the output from these would be weather dependant.Marinas? Maybe. Housing? Has Mr Woodham ever experienced a real Bristol Channel storm or a tsunami? Furthermore, I would point out that to call the results a lake is misleading, it would still be tidal. I am an engineer not an accountant so I cannot comment on costs but surely this sort of project should be financed by National Government and the European Union, which would both benefit from the energy produced. Many years ago, a politician Tony Benn, if I remember correctly proposed a feasibility study. Did it ever happen? If so were the results ever published? Finally, if the project goes ahead, best of luck Mr Woodham, but not at Brean Down.KENNETH F TUCKER - Milton Road, Weston


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