The Environmental, Social and Economic Impacts of an Artificial Surf Reef - The UK Experience
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The study presented in this thesis discusses the topic of ASRs through the use of a specific case study constructed at Boscombe, UK. With the main aim to provide an impartial and independent study into the environmental, social and economic impacts of an ASR. The research presented is therefore multidisciplinary in nature, the separate components utilise key techniques from the geophysical, numerical modelling and socio-economic disciplines are combined to present a significant contribution to the knowledge and understanding of ASRs. Whilst previous studies have focused on one of these disciplines, there are no independent detailed studies of a constructed ASR utilising an multidisciplinary approach. The ASR concept and structures are still in their development infancy, the subject has received cursory independent review in the literature. There have been few successful projects, those that have survived structurally in the ocean are not being used primarily for surfing. The Boscombe ASR is an example of high overspend, poor management and construction, loss of geotextile SFC and users deem the project a failure. The consequences of not correctly planning, managing and overseeing the construction has resulted in a poorly viewed project of limited success. All stages of this project could have benefited from thoughtful planning, thereby avoiding this outcome. If lessons are to be learnt from this project then the planning and management are key areas of the process that need addressing. Ensuring that any future ASR projects are securely integrated with the coastal zone management plan will provide sustainability and success. The DPSIR framework approach can be used to highlight and address the causes of problems in the project. This framework enables the various disciplines to be discussed in relation to each other; links can be identified between the environmental, social and economic impacts of the ASR construction. Strict protocols will increase the success of any ASR project. The final crest height of the Boscombe ASR was 0.5 m higher than the final design height, this is a fundamental design flaw that should not be occurring in modern coastal engineering practice. It is suggested that guidelines are written based on this research for the design and construction process of an ASR. The recommendations and guidelines for ASR monitoring are provided by this research. The emphasis for future projects should lie in the final design and in monitoring, baseline field data should be collected to understand the environmental state change and socio-economic impacts. Planning and government proposals should be accompanied by extensive stakeholder engagement ensuring transparency for the project and ownership within the coastal community. The exclusion of stakeholders at key decision points created distrust and misunderstanding towards the Boscombe ASR project. Avoiding unrealistic expectations within the surfing community and wider coastal community was discussed throughout this research, and by others in the literature. This research agrees with these statements, the issue of poor surfability would be improved by a greater area to manipulate the bathymetry. However this would come at a greatly increased cost in geotextile SFCs, which the current construction method is certainly not capable of delivering successfully. It would be recommended in this case that an alternative construction material was used that is resilient to the marine environment and readily adaptable given poor performance. Further testing of materials, both geotextile SFCs and alternatives, are required for the successful advancement of ASR technology.
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