Brean down, the proposed starting point
A tide of opinion
It's been talked about since Victorian times but now the idea of taming the power of the tide in the Severn Estuary could finally become a reality.
Severn Barrage Facts
The favoured route for the Severn Barrage stretches from Brean Down, near Weston Super Mare, to Lavernock Point, just south of Cardiff.
The barrage would be ten miles long.
It would cost an estimated £15 billion to build.
A workforce of 35,000 people would be needed for the construction.
It's reckoned the building work would take eight years to complete.
It would provide nearly five per cent of our total electricity needs.
The government hopes to make a decision by the end of 2010.
The government has launched a two year study to decide whether or not to build a barrage across the estuary to generate electricity.
If it's built, the barrage would alter Britain’s geography more radically than any other engineering project in history.
Pitting Green against Green
It would have profound economic and cultural implications.
What effect would a barrage have?
The proposals are deeply controversial and the debate over the merits of the scheme is pitting green against green.
The Severn Estuary includes important habitats for wading birds and environmentalists fear these could be lost if the construction goes ahead.
Other concerns include whether the barrage would restrict the biggest super tankers from docking at Avonmouth and the weakening of the Severn Bore, the wave caused by the incoming tide which is popular with local surfers.
A barrage could change this view forever
On the other side of the argument, the scheme's supporters say the barrage would provide a reliable source of clean electricity long into the future.
They say the barrage would offer a solution to the world's looming energy crisis, and put Britain at the forefront of engineering excellence.
It's also claimed it could provide flood protection for the vulnerable estuary and possible new transport links between Somerset and Wales.
last updated: 08/08/2008 at 17:36