AN INNOVATIVE surf-generating artificial reef is the key to reviving Cornwall's flagging tourist industry, the head of sustainability at Cornwall County Council said this week.
The proposed £1M scheme would transform Newquay's Tolcarne Beach into a surfing haven, generating tens of millions of pounds for the local economy, according County Council sustainable development officer Anthony Weight.
Speaking at the ICE South Western association conference 'Business opportunities from sustainable development', Weight explained that the Cornish surfing market is already worth up to £42M a year, and that this project is vital for further growth.
The artificial reef would stimulate the swell into waves up to 4m high and 170m long, while still allowing the harbour to continue operating as usual.
'This is the stuff that dreams are made of, ' enthused Weight, himself a keen surfer and director of Newquay Artificial Reef Company, the company charged with managing the project.
A feasibility study completed by coastal engineering world expert, Professor Kerry Black, confirmed that the project is viable, and Newquay Reef is now seeking funding for a more detailed study.
One of the primary objectives of the detailed study will be to ensure that the reef is sustainable, with a long life and minimum impact on the environment.
'Many schemes are proposed with sustainable design added as an afterthought, but for this scheme sustainability is the catalyst, ' said Weight. 'For this project a 25 year lifespan won't do.'
The artificial reef would be invisible even at low tide, yet would guarantee year-round surf, breathing much needed life into Cornwall's economy, said Weight.
Wages in Cornwall are 23% below the national average and the gross domestic product is 68% of the national standard.
The reef is expected to extend the tourist season and improve the tourism product.
Alan Sparks INFOPLUS www. newquayreef. com