Ambitious plans for Europe's first artificial surf reef are under threat after the government delayed its decision to approve it.
Plans for a surf reef are already fuelling property speculation
Defra has now asked Bournemouth Borough Council to defend its plans for a dramatic £8m seaside revamp for Boscombe seafront.
The council hopes the construction of the reef, which would create 4ft waves, would attract 10,000 surfers a year.
Work, due to start in the autumn, is on hold until Defra makes a decision.
A council spokesman said: "There has been delay in Defra processing the license because of the uniqueness and complexity of this project.
"However there is currently meaningful progress being made and Defra has offered the Bournemouth Borough Council a meeting to discuss the project."
Mike Francis, chairman of the Bournemouth Tourism Management Board which represents 18,000 employees across the tourism industry, said: "It will be a catastrophe for the town if this project is derailed after so much careful planning and preparation over the last three years.
"The surf reef is a vital part of the future of this area in attracting the modern affluent visitor who will enjoy the town by day and spend money in the hotels and restaurants by night."