Dredging of the harbours in Lyme Regis and West Bay is underway.

Work started on February 12 and is set to last until March 28 in order to maintain the harbours' navigational channels.

During the work, areas of the beach will be fenced off for safety due to the machinery being used.

The dredging equipment arrived at West Bay on February 12 and was offloaded and then towed to Lyme Regis where dredging will started a few days later.

Dredging at Lyme Regis will be completed by March 5 before the equipment is moved back to West Bay where dredging will re-start and be completed by March 28.

At Lyme Regis, the beach will be fenced off on March 6, when the dredging operation is completed, and the construction plant will be mobilised to complete the process of collecting sand and putting it back onto Front Beach.

This work is set to coincide with spring low tides. The beach will then be reopened on March 19.

The areas being dredged are very busy areas and do not contain any habitats of note for local marine plants and animals.

Dorset Council is monitoring nearby reefs as part of the dredging regime to make sure these actions do not damage locally more sensitive habitats.

The colour of the dredged sand is often darker in colour due to the lack of exposure to oxygen on the seabed - once exposed to the air it returns to its normal colour.

To ensure the beauty of the beaches isn’t affected, this dredged sand will be placed beneath a layer of the sand that is already there, which we have moved aside for this purpose.

Last year extensive testing of the dredging sediment was carried out at Lyme Regis, and Dorset Council says the test showed that there was no Escherichia Coli (e-coli) or Intestinal Enterococci released into the water because of the dredging and excavating activity.

At West Bay the dredging is being carried out under an MMO licence and in accordance with licencing requirements, the sediment was tested and found to be safe for discharge in the marine environment.

The colour of the sea will change due to the disruption of the seabed with sand particles suspended in the water. But swimming is discouraged due to the potential for allergic reactions due to these particles.

Harbours provide safe mooring and launching facilities for small boats and are important refuges along the Dorset coast for any vessels at sea that may be in difficulties.

Harbours can suffer from sediment deposits either from rivers or from the natural action of waves on beaches.

Every year the accumulated sediment that has deposited over the last twelve months is removed from the navigational channels and used to build up the local beaches.