Page last updated at 05:57 GMT, Monday, 29 September 2008 06:57 UK

Major plans for tidal energy farm

Antrim coast
The Antrim coast site is being hailed as having significant energy potential

A major tidal energy project is being planned for waters off the coast of Northern Ireland and Scotland.

ScottishPower has identified sites off the Antrim Coast, Pentland Firth and the Sound of Islay to test sea turbines which could power thousands of homes.

They have been working on the Lanstrom device, which is said to be one of the world's most advanced tidal turbine.

The sites would host up to 60 of the turbines, 20 at each site, generating power for up to 40,000 homes.

The company is expected to apply for planning permission next year.

The device, similar to an underwater wind turbine, has been tested in a Norwegian fjord. Keith Anderson from ScottishPower said it was a "historic day for the development of marine energy".

Tidal turbine
Turbines stand 30m tall on three legs and can work as deep as 100m below sea level
Ability to turn to harness tide movements
Turbine zones would be banned to trawlers for safety reasons

The structures stand 30 metres tall on three legs and can work as deep as 100 metres below sea level with the ability to turn to harness tide movements.

The 20-metre blades would turn at least 10 metres below the surface to avoid shipping, developers said.

The zones would be banned to trawlers for safety reasons.

ScottishPower insists there is no threat to marine life, but the Marine Conservation Society said it would want to look closely at the proposals and see a rigorous environmental impact assessment.

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