A CONSORTIUM of St Albans businessmen is making a final plea for support for their idea to turn the Millennium Dome into a planetarium.

The consortium, which is backing the scheme to make the controversial Greenwich structure a top tourist attraction, put in the bid over a year ago.

The transformation into a planetarium is expected to cost in the region of £50 million to £100 million, which includes the cost of a projector and seating.

With a decision on the Dome imminent from the Government, the group is calling for more support from businesses for the proposal.

Mr Bob Goodall, co-ordinator of the planetarium plan, said: "I think that it's a very exciting idea and one which will see the Dome put to good creative and educational use, rather than have it used as a political tool.

"But it's also important that the Dome be used for the good of the local economy, helping to rebuild the tourist industry and also providing more jobs."

The planetarium scheme comes from Mr David Jacobs, a senior partner in chartered accountancy firm Canon, Morgan and Rheinberg Partnership, based in St Albans, and Mr Norman Holmes, a former divisional director with Incape plc.

One of the key objectives of the proposal is to retain the Dome's educational and inspirational purpose.

The site is estimated to be worth around £400 million, which Mr Goodall believes could be raised from the financial support of other local businesses.

He said: "With backing from other companies and sponsorship, we have a chance to turn the Dome into something really positive."

A number of other proposals have been forward for the site, most notably a plan to dismantle the structure and ship it across the Atlantic to New York.

It has been suggested that the Dome could provide shelter for the Twin Towers' site massive salvage operation, still going on in the wake of the terrorist attack on September 11.

This idea, however, was pronounced infeasible in the House of Lords on Thursday, November 8.