Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Artificial reef ship plan mooted

HMS Scylla
HMS Scylla was sunk in Whitsand Bay in Cornwall in 2004

Plans have been unveiled to create an artificial reef by sinking a ship off the Dorset coast.

Wreck to Reef wants to sink a Type-42 destroyer in Balaclava Bay, Portland, to encourage divers to the area.

The not-for-profit group is hoping the Regional Development Agency will help fund the estimated 1m project costs.

HMS Scylla became Europe's first artificial diving reef when she was scuttled, off Whitsand Bay in Cornwall, almost five years ago.

It is hoped a destroyer could be obtained for about 130,000, decommissioned and sunk by the end of next year.

'Early stages'

Neville Copperthwaite, project leader from Wreck to Reef, said: "This would bring back people and bring money into the area.

"There are a lot of hurdles to get over but I am confident."

He said local councils have been positive while the Crown Estate has no objections to the scheme.

Mr Copperthwaite also said there were plans to sink two more ships in the future for educational and ecological benefits.

Portland Port Authority, which has jurisdiction for the waters, said it would not comment on the plans.

But a spokeswoman added: "It is very early stages.

"There is a whole variety of people that need to make decisions on this and we have our own policy."

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said it had not been approached about the idea but would be keen to advise before any decision was reached.

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