Observation tower offers a global perspective

The public could be given the opportunity to get a glimpse of deserts, savannah or rainforests several thousand miles away without having to travel further than London.

Under a scheme conceived by Peter Head, a British engineer - one of several Millennium projects to be unveiled this week - members of the public could walk into a specially devised centre in the capital to link up via satellite with other parts of the world.

A consortium of businesses is behind the pounds 92m plan for a communications and observatory tower, called Globorama, which would be built next to the agreed sight of the Millennium exhibition in Greenwich, south-east London.

The 200m high tower, which is expected to attract 2.4 million visitors by 2000, would give panoramic views of London. But, more significantly, through satellite technology, it would provide viewing platforms offering the chance to interact with major cities and natural environments "live" across the world. The Royal Geographical Society, which is backing the project, hopes to gain significantly through the construction of an international network of environmental research programmes linked to the project.

But the scheme is dependent on part-funding from the Millennium Commission, which is due to announce its "long-list" of submissions this week.

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