TIDAL turbines could be installed off Portland after the seabed was leased to an energy company.

The Crown Estate, which manages the UK seabed, has agreed rights to an area off the Bill to a developer for clean energy.

Although those in support of clean energy have welcomed the announcement, fishermen say they fear what it could mean for business if huge turbines are installed near fishing areas.

Siemens Marine Current Turbines (MCT) has been allocated a tidal stream ‘project site’- which could see turbines installed under the water by 2021.

Tidal turbines are ‘very much like underwater windmills,’ except the rotors are driven by consistent, fast-moving currents.

The submerged rotors harness the power of the marine currents to drive generators, which produce electricity.

The company couldn’t give the Echo any more details about theplans, just that the agreement ‘gives MCT the go-ahead to start investigations on the site’.

Jane Burnet, Green Party parliamentary candidate for South Dorset, said the party would support the project.

She added: “We can’t keep saying ‘no’ because Dorset is too beautiful.

“Dorset has to make some contribution towards the national energy requirements and subject to the correct provisions, we would support this project.”

But Weymouth fisherman Andy Alcock said he had not heard about the plans before.

He said: “I’d like to see a lot more information about it.”

Portland Bill was right in the middle of a lot of fishing grounds Mr Alcock added, and if the turbines were close to shore it could affect a lot of fishermen.

The strong tidal streams around the Bill are notorious and one of the greatest navigational hazards in the Channel.

It is one of three sites around the UK coastline which will be leased to Siemens MCT and 11 sites overall leased to energy companies. Rob Hastings, director of Energy and Infrastructure at The Crown Estate, said: “By providing these additional seabed rights we are pleased to be enabling further technology development and commercialisation, which will be critical if the UK is to unlock its significant natural resources for wave and tidal current energy.

“This innovative approach to leasing the seabed sees us responding to market demand and introducing managed demonstration zones to give other organisations the opportunity to lend tangible support in their local areas.”

Steve Stoye, chief executive officer of MCT, said: “The strategic decision to push forward with developing commercial-scale projects demonstrates Siemens commitment to the tidal sector and our confidence that there will be a future market for its SeaGen technology.

“Securing these new Agreements for Lease (AfL) is an important first step in investigating the sites as part of the wider development process.”