Academics from Plymouth University are set to survey local businesses and people who depend on the sea for work or leisure, to determine the economic impact of Dorset’s artificial surf reef. They survey will focus on whether the scheme has value for money. The £3.2m underwater reef, off Boscombe, was closed in March 2011 after only two years, because of damage. A spokesperson for Cascade, a local sales and marketing company commented that the survey was a positive idea, and that it was “important to quantify the performance of the reef, and then make informed decisions.”
“What we can now begin to consider is the socio-economic impact,” said Emma Rendle, from the Marine and Coastal Policy research group (MarCoPol) at Plymouth University, “Can we quantify its benefits, and if so, do they outweigh the costs of construction?”
The survey will take place online, and will poll a variety of members of the local community to determine the effects the reef has had on them. Fishermen will be asked if their catches in Poole Bay have changed. Hoteliers will be asked if it has had an effect on their bookings. For those without access to the internet, they will still be able to voice their opinions, as paper copies of the survey will be made available to them. A Cascade representative said, “As this is such an important issue to the community, it’s important that they be included in the process.”
The reef was opened in November 2009, past deadline and over budget. Created using 55 giant sand-filled bags placed 225m out to sea, the reef is supposed to enhance waves to improve conditions for surfers. Some however, have criticised the reef, saying it doesn’t work properly. However many traders in the area argue that the reef has regenerated the area. New developments have sprung up in the area to support tourism generated by the reef.
“Local tourism is a big economic boost to the town,” a Cascade spokesperson said, “This survey will be very helpful in determining if the reef is pivotal to that, or even a detrimental factor.” The council remains in talks with ASR Ltd, the firm which built the reef, over remedial works on the reef.
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Newly formed in October 2011 to service a growing demand in the business development sector, Cascade offers a system of unique direct marketing solutions.