CONSTRUCTION work has been completed ahead of schedule on the multimillion pound East Cliff stabilisation programme in Lyme Regis – but there is still work to do, experts have said.

The latest phase of West Dorset District Council’s environmental improvements scheme has been working to stabilise the slope at Church Cliff and East Cliff, protecting homes, businesses, roads, and utilities.

Work on Phase IV began in April 2013 with construction work estimated to take two years - but heavy construction work was completed this month and public access to the new seawall walkway was opened this week.

Key features of the scheme carried out by contractors Dean and Dyball Civil Engineering include a new sea wall, a new pathway from the car park to the sea wall, soil nailing, rock armour, and drainage.

Some areas continue to be fenced off as minor work is completed.

Work will now continue on landscaping and planting, which should be finished by Christmas.

The seawall walkway will be closed for approximately three weeks in October while steps and a footpath linking it to Charmouth Road Car Park are completed.

West Dorset District Council principal engineer for the works, Nick Browning, emphasised that although major construction work has been completed, there is still very much work to be done.

He added: “We have had some delays over the winter due to severe weather but we are very pleased that the major construction work is finished.

“However, there is still work to do including a huge amount of landscaping and planting.”

The Phase IV scheme is a multi-million pound project to protect homes, roads and infrastructure on the eastern side of the town from the effects of coastal erosion and landslips.

Leader of WDDC Robert Gould said: “It’s great news that the major stabilisation works in Lyme Regis is nearly complete, safeguarding many homes and businesses.

“The district council has worked hard with local representatives, the town council, the Environment Agency and county council to protect the town.

“I would like to thank residents for their continued patience and cooperation throughout.”

Defra has approved a government grant of £14.6million for the scheme, with Dorset County Council contributing up to £4.27 million and the district council £600,000.

An ‘official opening’ of the scheme will be arranged before next summer, once all the remaining work is finished and the extensive planting has become established.

Key features of the scheme

- The new sea wall will deflect waves back to the sea to prevent erosion of the cliffs and include a pedestrian walkway with seating.

- 400 tonnes of rock armour from the Mendips will protect the eastern end of the new sea wall.

- 2,500 soil nails will be drilled into the coastal cliff to pin the unstable material near the surface to the deeper, more stable material.

- Drainage measuring 20 to 25 metres will be installed just above the new sea wall. Eight-metre piles on East Cliff will enhance the stability of the cliff above the soil nails and assist with protection of the sea wall.

- 25-metre piles below Charmouth Road car park and throughout the allotments will prevent landslips progressing inland and protect the SSSI.

- A coastal viewing area just below Charmouth Road car park will include a footpath with planting and seating.