Beach storm repair work on Portland completed

Cove House Inn in Chiswell Image copyright Richard Broome
Image caption Chiswell on Portland was battered by storms in February

Work to repair flood defences on the Dorset coast damaged in winter storms has been completed.

The Environment Agency (EA) and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council carried out a £1m scheme to restore barriers and shift shingle.

The agency said about 150,000 cubic metres of shingle was lost from the beach during the storms.

Local residents said the building up of shingle banks was "unnecessary".

The sea wall and gabions - large mesh parcels of stones - were repaired as part of the work to protect buildings at Chiswell.

Stuart Morris, a civil engineer who worked with the local authority on planning sea defences in the 1960s, described the shifting of thousands of tonnes of shingle from the waterline to bolster the crest of the beach as a "waste of money".

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Media captionWaves crashed over the sea wall at Chiswell, overlooking Chesil Cove, Dorset. Pictures courtesy James Grant

He welcomed the work to restore the gabions, but said moving the shingle was motivated by "panic and gut reaction".

"It happens after every major storm, as it did 25 years ago, but the sea always restores it eventually.

"At worst it is distorting the natural processes of the beach," he said.

Other residents took to Facebook to cast doubt on how long the new banks of shingle would remain in position.

EA spokesman Paul Gainey insisted the work would "help the natural beach rebuilding process" after the height of the beach was reduced by up to 3m (10ft).

Image copyright
Image caption The shingle was stripped from the beach following the storms

"With the beach and crest in a depleted state, there is an increased risk of waves running up the beach and overtopping beach defences.

"This recovery of shingle using excavators and bulldozers is part of an approved Beach Management Plan and is triggered from time to time when the cross-section of the beach is narrowed."

Councillor Ian Roebuck said: "We must recognise that it is very likely that we will have more frequent occasions of severe weather to test the defences in the future."

The agency also tested its flood warning siren earlier, as part of preparations for any future winter storms.

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