NEXT year will be busy for local harbours with a series of engineering projects and maintenance taking place.

At West Bay works to one of the harbour walls is expected to begin in the New Year with repairs to an adjoining wall scheduled to get underway in the autumn.

At Lyme Regis minor repairs are continuing on the Cobb with ongoing consultations over the larger Environmental Improvement Scheme, phase 5, with the project still in the diary for work to start in the late summer of 2025.

Major works are also planned for harbour walls in Weymouth.

Dorset Council’s harbours advisory committee heard that although all of the proposals were going ahead some other local projects were having to be reduced in their scope because of rising construction costs and Government grants not keeping pace with inflation.

Senior coastal protection engineering manager Matthew Penny told the committee that funding gaps are widening with construction costs rising at a much faster rate than likely grant support – although lobbying was taking place to persuade the Government that more money needed to be found.

Committee chairman Cllr Mark Roberts said he had been warned that around 10 per cent of all national coastal project would not get underway in the coming year because of funding shortfalls.

He said he was personally delighted that there was now a timeline for work to walls A and B at West Bay which would, ultimately, allow the public toilets to open again and the temporary loos on Fisherman’s Green to be removed.

The meeting heard that work to wall B was now considered urgent with the wall showing increasing signs of movement and an investigation noting that its underlying condition is worse than anticipated.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

West Bay looking towards Harbour Wall B from the damaged Harbour Wall A

The committee agreed a request to produce an annual risk report for West Bay, Lyme Regis and Weymouth, Richard Tinsley telling the meeting that it was evident that given the age of all three harbours and the apparent increasing frequency of weather ‘events’ coupled with shortfalls in national funding, Dorset Council could find itself facing unexpected bills running into millions of pounds.

He said that it might be better to assess that risk helping the authority to plan ahead should the worse happen.