A LARGE chunk of Boscombe surf reef has broken away, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Photos taken by Gary Ellson of Bournemouth Helicopters yesterday show that one section is “completely missing” and sources say they believe it is now irreparable and could be the end for the surf reef.

But the council says it can be repaired.

Mr Ellson, chief flying instructor and managing director, said the damage was obvious when flying overhead.

He said: “A whole section is completely and entirely missing. And another tube is leaking sand in a big way and could go in the next few days.

“I always said from day dot that the gaps were too big and someone would get their leg caught.

“Now you could get a bus caught in it. There’s no doubt about what we were seeing.”

The surf reef, built and designed by ASR, was closed in March because the sandbags had shifted.

The New Zealand press recently reported safety concerns about another reef from ASR.

The contractor is due to return in the spring to try to sort out the problems.

Tony Williams, the council’s executive director for environment and economy, said: “This picture does not reveal anything new over and above what we have previously and proactively advised.

“We said on March 31 2011, that significant changes have altered the structure of the reef. Since then we have commissioned a further investigation to provide more detail, giving a definitive condition report.

“As previously stated, we have made ASR aware of the results of the recent survey and have requested details on how they will dovetail these with the refinement works scheduled to be carried out.

“We continue to have constructive dialogue with ASR and they have confirmed they will be returning to Bournemouth to do their own assessment soon and discuss their thoughts with us.

“Both ourselves and ASR believe the reef can be repaired. For now, we are erring on the side of caution and advising people not to use the reef.

“Given that surfing is an extreme sport and always includes an element of risk, health and safety surrounding the surf reef project has been paramount from the start, from planning stages through construction to completion and this high level of safety continues.”

The council has said that the reef is insured.