Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Friday, 29 August 2008 18:31 UK

Artificial surf reef put in place

Laying the surf reef
A barge is being used to lay the reef off the Bournemouth coast

Work on Europe's first artificial surf reef has begun on the seabed off the Dorset coast after it was delayed by wind, rain and high waves.

It is hoped the calm weather will last long enough for the construction to take place at Boscombe, Bournemouth.

The 2.68m structure, which will be the world's fourth artificial reef, will double the size of waves.

The idea was mooted nearly a decade ago and is part of a 9.5m redevelopment of the area.

Paul Clarke, from Bournemouth Surfing Centre, said: "We have been waiting for over 10 years for this day.

"It's a dream come true for the surfing community of Bournemouth.

"The reef will turn an unrideable knee high wave into a head high wave that peels perfectly for around 70m (230ft) in length."

Dredged sand on Bournemouth beach
A mound of dredged sand on Bournemouth beach

The first section of the base, which consists of matting with webbing lattice and empty sandbags attached, will be taken by barge from Poole to the reef site 225m (740ft) out to sea, east of Boscombe Pier.

Divers will attach the shore end to 10 tonne anchors on the seabed before the rest of the reef is unfolded from the barge along the site and anchored in place.

The bags will then be pumped full of sand to form part of the bottom layer which will level the sea bed.

The rest of the reef, which covers the size of a football pitch in total, will then be installed in stages.

Bournemouth Borough Council has signed a deal with New Zealand-based ASR Ltd to construct the reef by 31 December at the latest.

But David Neilson, reef construction manager for ASR Ltd, said he was hopeful it could be finished by the end of October, weather dependent.

He also urged watercraft to stay away from the construction site to keep the divers safe.

The webbing base and 55 bags mimic the effects of a natural reef and act as a ramp, pushing waves upwards and doubling their size.

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

First part of reef put on barge
06 Aug 08 |  Dorset
Cost of surf reef doubles
04 Jul 08 |  England

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