Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 16:34 UK

Work starts on town's surf reef

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An artist's impression shows how the surf reef will be made up of 55 sand-filled bags

Work to build Europe's first artificial surf reef, which could attract 10,000 surfers a year to the South coast, has begun in Dorset.

The 2.7m project is designed to double the size of waves at Boscombe, in Bournemouth, and should be ready by the end of the year, weather permitting.

The council has said a wider regeneration of Boscombe will also boost the local economy by 3m a year.

Work began at a secret location in Poole to construct the bottom layer.

The council hopes the project will transform Boscombe, which has been seen as the more deprived end of town for many years.

The artificial reef will be one of four worldwide which include Narrowneck, Queensland; Cable, Western Australia and Mt Maunganui, New Zealand.

Roger Brown, of Bournemouth Borough Council, said the initial work was "fundamentally the structure for the reef".

'Challenging range'

"It really is the start of the process. It has been a long time coming and this is the first physical works of the programme."

Dr Kerry Black, who is based in New Zealand, designed the reef after travelling the entire Pacific Rim to measure 44 of the world's best surf breaks.

It is claimed the reef will double the size of the existing surf at Boscombe, up to 13ft (4m), as well as doubling the number of good surf days.

On a good day, it will provide a grade five wave, which is in the "challenging range".

The scheme has been funded through the sale of a 9.7m seafront car park to a developer.

The cost of the project has almost doubled from 1.4m.

The reef will be built with 55 sand-filled "geotextile bags", which will cover an area the size of a football pitch.

The bags, which vary in length from 50ft (15m) to 230ft (70m), will be assembled onto a webbing base, which will be taken by barge 740ft (225m) out to sea to the east of Boscombe Pier.

Fishermen delay surf reef plans
20 Jul 07 |  Dorset

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