Bournemouth Borough Council has announced it has now placed orders for the specialist bags and webbing base for the construction of the artificial surf reef in Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset.

The contracts with a total value of over £500,000 have been let with ELCO, the Australian-based geotextile* bag manufacturer and Unique, the New Zealand based webbing manufacturer. The companies have developed these specialised products in associated with ASR Ltd, the New Zealand-based company which has designed the reef.

The webbing base and 55 bags, which vary in length from 15 metres to 70 metres will cover an area the size of a football pitch, and be positioned underwater 225 metres out to sea to the east of Boscombe Pier.

The first of three consignments, which will include the webbing base and first section of the bottom layer of bags, will arrive in the UK at the end of May 2008, having travelled 12,000 miles (19,000 km) by sea.

The reef will be constructed during the summer months, when there are calmer sea conditions. The sand needed to construct the reef has been harvested from the beach replenishment programmes that took place in 2007 and 2008, and is being stored on Boscombe beach.

New Zealand-based Dr Kerry Black is the designer of the reef. ASR Ltd, Dr Kerry Black’s company, has been revealed as the constructor of the reef, on a performance-based contract, ensuring the reef will perform to pre-stated standards.

Stephen Macloughlin, Leader of Bournemouth Borough Council says: “The idea of building Europe’s first artificial surf reef in Boscombe, Bournemouth has been transformed from an exciting proposal, to a reality. The construction timetable is on track to allow the reef to be completed, providing there are favourable weather conditions, by the end of October this year.

As ASR Ltd has been commissioned on a performance-based contract to construct the reef, this is the most efficient, lowest-risk strategy for the Council and simply makes sense.”

Updates on the surf reef and the construction process can be found at bournemouth.co.uk.

* Geo-textile bags are environmentally inert and so the material will not harm marine life. The outer layer of the bag is in a coarser material which will encourage colonization by marine life.

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