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'Substandard' surf reef faces further delays and costs following boat collision

A boat collision with Bournemouth’s “substandard” artificial surf reef has led to a year of repair works, and means money set aside by the council for design improvements must now be spent on repairing collision damage.

Repairs to collision damage — which was discovered in March 2011 — were delayed until August by poor weather and tidal conditions and will now be further postponed until spring 2012 due to a work hiatus over the winter, the local council has told NCE. It is not known when the collision happened. ASR is now working to “winter-proof” the reef before the hiatus.

“Given that autumn is now firmly upon us it is our priority to focus immediate works to prepare the reef for winter weather,” said ASR managing director Nick Behunin. The reef has been closed since March.

Inspections in March showed the reef profile had “significantly changed” and a boat’s propellor had damaged two containers on the upper layer of the 1ha reef, which comprises a geomat base and two layers of sand-filled geotextile bags. Buoys were in place around the reef to deter boats.

Juggling funds

Some £150,000 was previously witheld by the council from ASR’s contract last spring while ASR devised refinements to improve the waves created by the “substandard” reef.

However, those refinements have still not been delivered and the council now needs to use that money for the repairs, which will only restore the reef to its previous condition rather than improving it.

The council said it was expecting an insurance payout as a result of the boat collision, and that payout will in turn pay for the long term reef refinements. However, the insurance company has not yet made a decision on the council’s claim. The original price of the scheme was put at £1.36M in 2006. This rose to £2.7M on the signing of the contract with ASR, but final costs came in at £3.03M.

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