Enhanced tidal streams close to coastal headlands appear to present ideal locations for the deployment of tidal energy devices. In this paper, the power potential of tidal streams near an idealized coastal headland with a sloping seabed is investigated using a near-field approximation to represent a tidal fence, i.e. a row of tidal devices, in a two-dimensional depth-averaged numerical model. Simulations indicate that the power extracted by the tidal fence is limited because the flow will bypass the fence, predominantly on the ocean side, as the thrust applied by the devices increases. For the dynamic conditions, fence placements and headland aspect ratios considered, the maximum power extracted at the fence is not related in any obvious way to the local undisturbed kinetic flux or the natural rate of energy dissipation due to bed friction (although both of these have been used in the past to predict the amount of power that may be extracted). The available power (equal to the extracted power net of vertical mixing losses in the immediate wake of devices) is optimized for devices with large area and small centre-to-centre spacing within the fence. The influence of energy extraction on the natural flow field is assessed relative to changes in the M2 component of elevation and velocity, and residual bed shear stress and tidal dispersion.