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Boscombe Surf Reef

Europe’s first artificial surf reef in Boscombe, Bournemouth will resume next month and the long-awaited project should be completed by the end of August, subject to weather conditions.

That’s the prediction of Andy Campbell, commercial manager of ASR, the New Zealand-based contractors employed by Bournemouth council to construct the Boscombe reef.

During a four-day visit to the resort, Mr Campbell said his company had been stung by criticism over the delays and spiralling costs of the reef scheme, which have risen from £1.8 million to more than £3 million.

He said: “We have been surprised and concerned; particularly by reports that we would not be coming back to finish the project. We will definitely be back.

“Our reputation is on the line here and we are not going to do anything that would put that at risk. I can understand people’s concerns but the delays were out of our control.

“The first problem was getting work permits; then we had to contend with one of the worst summers on record. We had to stop work for safety reasons.”

Mr Campbell said ASR’s contract with the council remained unchanged, since it was re-negotiated last summer. “The only extra cost has been £100,000 which the council contributed towards our demobilisation and remobilisation costs.

“Eight construction workers will be back at the end of April; the timescale is dependent on the weather but if we get a good run we hope to complete by the end of August. Subject to the right weather conditions, surfers will then be able to ride the waves.

“I’ve spoken to surfers this week and, even with only the first layer in place, the surf has improved.”

Mr Campbell said work on a reef, currently under construction in India, would be halted by the monsoon season. ASR employees are also involved in two on-going reef projects in New Zealand.

He added that the New Zealand schemes would be completed “when weather and funds allow” with the Bournemouth reef likely to be finished first.

“It will be a fantastic attraction which will not just attract surfers to Bournemouth; surfing is a huge participation sport in New Zealand.

“The reef will be a huge boost to the local economy; with the global recession it will help regenerate tourism in this area.”

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Posted: 6th March 2009

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