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Radical new proposal to beat Venice flooding

A RADICAL alternative scheme to protect Venice from its almost daily flooding has been put to the city's mayor and to the Venice in Peril fund.

The proposal, developed by mechanical engineer and inventor Reuel van Millingen, is to build a simple dyke around the island of Venice, and create a fully enclosed 60km 2area.Van Millingen died last year and his scheme is now being championed by his family and close friends.

Earlier plans to protect the city from increasingly high tides involve construction of complex buoyant barriers across the inlets connecting the Venice lagoon with the Adriatic Sea.

Backed by Italy's ministry of public works and Consorzio Venezia Nuova, a contracting consortium including Italian firms Impregilo, Recchi, Grandi Lavori, Mazzi and Saipem, this suggestion is nearly 30 years old.

Van Millingen claimed these proposals did not account for rising sea levels and increases in flooding - a view endorsed last month by Venice in Peril president Lady Frances Clarke.

Van Millingen's scheme claims to protect against both low-level and exceptional flooding.With only one lock connecting the enclosed area and the lagoon, gates could be quickly closed when water rose above acceptable levels.

Levels inside the dyke could be further controlled by pumping.

Van Millingen's solution would also present less obstruction to ships serving busy industrial ports within the lagoon south of Venice, which, under current plans, would be unable to enter or exit the lagoon at high tide.

A decision on the barrier scheme is expected later this year.

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