Funding options to repair a historic harbour wall are being investigated after costs for the scheme rose significantly - by at least £1.5 million.

Dorset Council secured millions of pounds worth of funding in order to carry out a major project to stabilise and protect the iconic Cobb at Lyme Regis.

Now the council says due to inflation and the rising costs of construction works the budget is “no longer sufficient” to carry out the works as originally planned.

Rising costs mean that what originally was a £3 million project is now a £4.5 million project - “at least”.

The council says despite this setback it remains committed to the project and is monitoring the site for storm damage.

News of the Cobb Stabilisation Scheme, part of a wider environmental improvement strategy for the town, was revealed last March when it was stated the famous breakwater which protects the town from the sea was eroding so badly that, without intervention, it would no longer work by 2044 - putting more than 100 properties at risk of flooding and coastal erosion.

Sea-floor erosion, combined with the movement of stone blocks due to wave impact on the outer harbour wall and the deterioration of the structure on the inner harbour wall, has caused significant destabilisation of the structure in recent years.

Dorset Council secured £2.5m of funding from the Environment Agency - and planned to provide an additional £500,000 of its own funding. It was originally hoped work would start this winter but it was pushed back to summer 2024.

However it emerged earlier this summer the project was being hit by a delay of up to a year.

Dorset councillors were told that some technical changes to what is required from the project has resulted in the need for more design work and the knock on of additional costs and time which were not budgeted for.

Now additional funding options are being explored as rising inflation has meant there is a need to add to the £3 million budget.

A Dorset Council spokesperson said: “The project team are drawing up a range of additional funding options, and Dorset Council and its partners remain committed to delivering the project – with several viable funding options on the horizon. It is not known at this present stage whether this will mean a delay to the project or a reduced scope.

“The Cobb itself is being routinely monitored by the Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) team and the harbours team for signs of storm damage.

“Currently there is no additional risk to the public or businesses operating on the Cobb.”

Councillors were told at a meeting in June that that it had been calculated that if no work was carried out on the Cobb at all there was a high chance of it failing completely within 20 years - although the risk of failure was “relatively low at this point”.