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£20m Lyme Regis coastal works start
PRELIMINARY work has started on the next phase of the vital £20million Lyme Regis coastal protection scheme.
A Coastal Protection Forum meeting in the town heard that months of work on the area has begun to prepare the ground for construction due to start next April.
The preparatory work will also focus on conserving dormice and wildlife on the site.
The welfare of the small rodents as well as the reptiles, badgers and birds that live on Church Cliff is at the top of the agenda for the team undertaking the huge task of building and installing the new measures to keep the notoriously unstable land in place.
The area is part of the Jurassic Coast world heritage site and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Geoff Davis, project manager for supervising consultants Halcrow, said that the programme hinged on dealing correctly with the plants and wild animals on site.
The fourth phase of the town’s coast protection works will see a new 390 metre sea wall built on the beach to the east of the town and in front of the current defences.
Huge excavating equipment and teams using ropes will install soil-nailing into the slope and enormous piles will be driven into the ground at the top of the cliffs, with a new deep drainage system to take water away from the unstable land.
The work, which will take a year to complete once the heavy machinery moves in, is fraught with difficulty, involving significant health and safety issues for workers and the public, the inherent instability of the land and working against a rising tide every day on the beach as the new wall is created.
But Mr Davis said that all energies were currently focused on ensuring the detailed conservation plans drawn up by Natural England were adhered to on the cliffs which will be stripped of vegetation before work starts.
Mr Davis said: “We have no plans to rescue the dormice, but we will wait until the dead of winter before clearing the vegetation that they are fond of. Then the trees and bushes will be cut, but not to ground level.
“The dormice will wake up and realise that their favourite habitat has gone and if they have got any sense they will move and corridors of vegetation will be left for them to do that.”
Mr Davis added that a new habitat was being created for reptiles at the site and that a close eye is being kept on badger populations although no setts had been found.
Chris Hill, contract manager for the contractors, civil engineers Dean and Dyball, and who have set up their base in the Charmouth Road car park, confirmed that all energies were on the welfare of the native wildlife.
“We are taking great pains to deal with the animals,” he said “That sets the tone for the programme and its timing.”
The funding for the scheme currently budgeted at £19.5million comes from Defra, the Environment Agency, Dorset County Council and forward funding of £600,000 from West Dorset District Council which has meant the scheme can go ahead.
Town and district councillor Daryl Turner said that the forum had been very positive and that the latest scheme will mean that around £60million will have been spent on coastal protection in the town.
“It is important that this goes ahead, as in future the policy will be to manage and retreat, so this is liable to be the last sea wall and it needs to last,” he said.
“So they need to go out, guns blazing and protect this quarter of the town.”
- THE main contractors are now on site carrying out preliminary surveys, design work and ground preparation. Ecological work and site investigations will continue until next February.
In April the major construction works will begin and are set to continue until April 2014.
Work is likely to be carried out from 8am to 6pm, Mondays to Fridays, tides permitting.
There are no plans to restrict access to the foreshore other than when health and safety issues make it essential.
Landscaping work will go ahead from May.