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A formal inquiry into the £70 million Usk Barrage has just started in Newport.Newport Borough Council is sponsoring the controversial scheme which would create a permanent high water level behind a new barrier.But a host of conservationists, fishermen and the National Rivers Authority have opposed the scheme on a number of grounds, including the loss of mudbanks upstream of the barrage.Supporters claim the barrage would bring up to £300 million worth of investment to the area and help protect the town from flooding.The inquiry is expected to be complete by mid-April and it is likely to take the inspector around six months to prepare a report.The final decision on whether to approve the scheme will then rest with the Welsh Secretary, John Redwood. CONSTRUCTION NEWS