A project costing £180,000 to protect an iconic Dorset beach from sewage leaks is set to begin this month.

More than 800 metres of sewers are being relined within West Bexington as part of a drive to reduce the discharge of untreated stormwater on Chesil Beach.

This project by Wessex Water will close roads near the beach for a month to reinforce the network by sealing pipes, safeguarding the environment by preventing foul water from escaping and groundwater from entering sewers.

This can lead to flooding or storm overflows which are automatically released into rivers or the sea if the system becomes overwhelmed.

The project comes after the company’s recent investment in the area with the completion of an £800,000 pipeline last year.

That year-long scheme saw a replacement rising main sewer stretching for nearly a mile between sewage pumping stations at West Bexington and Gorselands, near Swyre, increase sewer capacity and help to cope with sudden increases in water volume.

Further upgrades to ensure foul water is pumped away from the public toilets on the beach at West Bexington were also completed to help reduce the number of times a nearby storm overflow operates automatically by 50 per cent.

A further project, to separate rainwater from the foul sewers on Beach Road in the village is at the planning stage, further reducing automatic discharges from overflows that relieve the threat of overwhelmed combined sewers flooding homes and businesses during heavy rain.

Project manager Paul Delves said: “Relining the sewers in West Bexington continues our commitment towards protecting this historically important and popular area, with Chesil Beach and the South West Coast Path that is well used by walkers, as well as a coastal reed bed close by.

“Sealing them in this way further helps protect the network from being overwhelmed which can lead to flooding or the release of untreated wastewater and it backs up the results achieved by the major pipeline project we completed in the area last year.

“We’re now working closely with local customers to finalise details of a further project to separate rainwater from the foul sewer system in this area, which will also help to reduce these discharges.’’

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: This map shows the dates of the respective closuresThis map shows the dates of the respective closures (Image: Wessex Water)

The relining work will start on Monday, February 26 and continue until Friday, March 15.

It will be done using ‘no-dig’ techniques, which Wessex Water says are quicker and less intrusive than replacing the pipe in a conventional manner.

A length of Swyre Road, to the junction with Beach Road, in the village will be closed to through traffic between Monday, February 26 and Friday, March 8, with Beach Road closed from the junction with Swyre Road from Monday, March 11 to Friday, March 15. Access will be maintained for residents and businesses and customers to those businesses.

Relining work will also be taking place at the public toilets near the beach between Monday, March 4 and Friday, March 8.

Wessex Water has already completed a host of work to protect the environment in Dorset, including a £500,000 investment to separate rainwater from the sewer system around historic Portland Bill Lighthouse from untreated wastewater in 2022.

The company has committed £1.4 billion between 2020 and 2025 to reduce overflow discharges and minimise the environmental impact of its sewage treatment processes.