Although a lot can be learnt from technology transfer from wind turbines and ship propellers, there have been a few experiments investigating marine current turbines. As a result, a study has been carried out on the power, thrust and cavitation characteristics of 1/20th scale model of a possible 16 m diameter horizontal axis tidal turbine. Cavitation tunnel experiments for different blade pitch settings have been compared with simulations based on a developed blade element-momentum theory. This theory has been shown to provide a satisfactory representation of the experimental turbine performance characteristics. As an example application, the developed theory has been used to design possible horizontal axis tidal turbines for the tidal flows around Portland Bill. The results show that there is a clear balance between design loads and optimisation of energy yields.