Dorset

Boscombe surf reef 'hazardous' says safety report

  • 3 November 2010
  • From the section Dorset
Boscombe seafront
Image caption The council deemed the reef "sub-standard" after a report by the University of Plymouth

A council-commissioned safety report has revealed potential hazards posed to users of Boscombe's man-made surf reef.

Users could become trapped, break limbs or in the "worst case scenario" drown, after gaps were found in the structure. Parts of the reef had also come away.

Bournemouth council said the RNLI was satisfied and all risks had been addressed.

The £3m reef enhances the quality of waves but has come under criticism for not working as well as it should.

The structure, which was opened a year ago after a series of delays and at more than double the original cost, was created to improve surfing conditions using 55 sand-filled bags which are 225m (740ft) out to sea.

Extreme sport

The report, carried out by Commercial & Specialised Diving Ltd, said experienced surfers may consider none of the elements greater than "low risks".

It added that natural reefs had "far greater hazards and associated risks than those posed by the artificial reef".

The council said a reef management group met on a quarterly basis to review and manage the reef.

Tony Williams, council executive director for environment and economy, said it was "standard" for the council to conduct regular risk assessments and it was in constant touch with the RNLI.

"Surfing by its nature is an extreme sport, and participating is not without risk or danger," he said.

'Inherent dangers'

RNLI lifeguards, who patrol the reef all year, have reported no incidences of injury or personal damage to anyone using the reef since its launch a year ago.

No safety concerns had been reported from users.

The safety concerns come after civic chiefs made a recommendation to withhold £150,000 from the reef's New Zealand-based creator ASR Ltd until improvements are shown to work.

ASR would be given £77,500 only when work was finished and there was evidence it worked.

Following another successful review six months later, the second half of the money would be released.

Chris Jensen, from ASR, said it was in discussions with the council about the future.

"The reef is designed specifically for the purpose of surfing, which has inherent dangers," he said.

"They (the RNLI) have reviewed safety on the reef and consider the risks to be manageable."

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