A huge dam (called a "barrage") is built across a river estuary. When the tide goes in and out, the water flows through tunnels in the dam.
The ebb and flow of the tides can be used to turn a turbine, or it can be used to push air through a pipe, which then turns a turbine. Large lock gates, like the ones used on canals, allow ships to pass.
If one was built across the Severn Estuary, the tides at Weston-super-Mare would not go out nearly as far - there'd be water to play in for most of the time.
But the Severn Estuary carries sewage and other wastes from many places (e.g. Bristol & Gloucester) out to sea. A tidal barrage would mean that this stuff would hang around Weston-super-Mare an awful lot longer!
Also, if you're one of the 80,000+ birds that feeds on the exposed mud flats when the tide goes out, then you have a problem, because the tide won't be going out properly any more.
All coastal areas consistently experience two high and two low tides over a period of slightly greater than 24 hours. For those tidal differences to be harnessed into electricity, the difference between high and low tides must be at least five meters, or more than 16 feet. There are only about 40 sites on the Earth with tidal ranges of this magnitude.
Tidal power is non-polluting, reliable and predictable.Tidal barrages, undersea tidal turbines - like wind turbines but driven by the sea - and a variety of machines harnessing undersea currents are under development. Unlike wind and waves, tidal currents are entirely predictable.
  • Tidal turbine

    Tidal turbines look like wind turbines. They are arrayed underwater in rows, as in some wind farms. The turbines function best where coastal currents run at between 3.6 and 4.9 knots (4 and 5.5 mph). In currents of that speed, a 15-meter (49.2-feet) diameter tidal turbine can generate as much energy as a 60-meter (197-feet) diameter wind turbine. Ideal locations for tidal turbine farms are close to shore in water depths of 20–30 meters (65.5–98.5 feet).
  • http://www.energysavers.gov/renewable_energy/ocean/index.cfm/mytopic=5000

  • Every coastal region has two high and two low tides in each approximate 24 hour period. A big advantage of tidal energy is its predictability. The size and time of tides can be predicted very efficiently.
  • http://solar.calfinder.com/blog/news/what-is-tidal-energy/

Tidal Energy at work