COUNCILLORS have backed implementing a soil stabilisation scheme that will cost around £2.1million and will enable the reopening of the Beaminster Tunnel.

Dorset County Council has been considering a range of options to repair the tunnel since its closure following a landslip on July 7 that killed couple Rosemary Snell and Michael Rolfe.

The council’s cabinet agreed to move forward with plans for ‘soil nailing’ on the slopes surrounding the tunnel and members have stressed the need to move forward with the work. Director for environment Miles Butler said officers had essentially been investigating two principal options, with the other being the installation of a hood or concrete extension of the tunnel to protect the road from landslips.

He said that the soil stabilisation scheme would cost around £2.1million and the hood would cost around £1.8million.

In the report considered at the meeting, members were told both options would take an estimated 26-week implementation period with work anticipated to start in January.

However, cabinet member for transport Peter Finney confirmed that – while it was too early to set an exact timescale – it was hoped the soil stabilisation option would not take quite as long.

Council leaders also vowed to continue to explore options after the Department for Transport refused to fund the repairs.

Director for environment Miles Butler said the council had ‘not given up’ and was still in contact with the DfT, although he warned the authority ‘can’t count on’ any funding coming through.