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The BBC's Jane Goddard
"Bournemouth could soon have bigger and better waves"
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Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Barrier reef proposed for Bournemouth

The reef could be ready to surf by the winter of 2002
By the BBC's Jane Goddard

When you think of Bournemouth, you'd be forgiven for not thinking of it as surfer's paradise. Hawaii it's not. But Bournemouth could soon have bigger and better waves.

Bournemouth Borough Council are meeting to discuss constructing the first artificial barrier reef in Europe, which could turn a stretch of the Dorset coast into a surfer's paradise.

Professor Kerry Black, the world expert in making artificial waves is here from New Zealand to present a feasibility study.

Using computer models based on an artificial reef he's already created on the Gold Coast, north of Sydney, Australia, he hopes to make waves here up to four metres high.

Prof Kerry Black: Plans for waves 4m high
"Wave climate is a bit different here but we will get about three times more surfing days than you get without the reef per year. So by putting the reef in place it'll be about a 100 metre ride which will be quite exceptional"

The plan for Dorset includes two surfing reefs, one in Southbourne and one at Boscombe, as part of a wider regeneration programme in the area.

The reefs are also a form of coastal protection, which would do away with the need for hardwood groynes on beaches, which are costly to replace and usually made of wood from unstustainable sources.

Guy Penwarden, Chairman, Wessex Surf Club is right behind the idea.

Surfer Guy Penwarden backs the reef
"We really do need an artificial surfing reef in this area, that would bring the waves up to a rideable height even on a small day such as this," he says.

"That would magnify the waves and make them worthwhile riding".

The reef would consist of 500 metre stretch of huge sand bags designed to last 400 years. Marine life should develop after just a few weeks. But not everyone is happy.

Laura Hirst of East Dorset Friends of the Earth says: "Our concerns would be the affect on the coast further east and also we'd have to consider the extra transport needs - a full environmental impact survey needs to be done."

Laura Hirst: Environmental concerns
Surfers argue that the beach at Bournemouth isn't real anyway, as it is constructed from sand dredged from Poole Harbour.

The last time the sand was replaced was 1989 and generally 'nourishment' as they call it is needed every 15-20 years.

The next batch of sand is due to be pumped onto Bournemouth's beaches in 2003, by which time a new reef could already be in place.

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04 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Tempers flare in surfers' paradise
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