COUNCIL chiefs have come under fire after tonnes of boulders were put on Chesil Beach.
It comes as part of emergency, temporary repair work which is being carried out at the site to repair sea defences.
The Environment Agency says the large boulders, which appeared near Chesil Cove on Saturday, will be used as a temporary repair to the gabion sea defences.
But Portland residents and environmental campaigners fear they are going to be used to concrete an area below Quiddles Cafe on the seafront.
There is fear that such intervention may worsen the situation, causing long-term damage to the natural iconic landmark.
Islanders are demanding more transparency on decisions involving the World Heritage Site.
Environmental campaigner Storm Wallace told the Echo: “The work that they’ve planned revolves around the fact that clay is visible which they must have thought was permanent – but it’s already gone.
“They definitely need to re-evaluate what they’re doing.”
She added: “The project manager at the council told me that they didn’t realise the beach would repair itself this quickly.”
She added: “It shocks me that they didn’t know and that they haven’t researched Chesil Beach at all.
“We’ve heard they are using 500 tonnes of those big rocks to build a road on the pebbles from the Masonic hall to the corner at Quiddle – then going to concrete them in as a huge flat area.”
Anger is rising at the lack of communication between authorities, Portland residents and the Crown Estate, the landowners of Chesil Beach.
Izzy Imset, of diving group Underwater Explorers and of Chesil Beach Watch, said: “We need more transparency on decisions involving a World Heritage Site of global importance.
“Whether what’s being done is right or wrong, lasting or passing, the people of Portland and Weymouth are stakeholders in its future.”
He added: “Much of the current debate stems from the belief that nature, the beach, will heal itself as it has done so since the last Ice Age.
“Our understanding is that local representatives of the Crown Estate were not informed in advance of the plan involving the boulders.
“And that the plan itself is based on the temporary, natural if not frequent, exposure of the clay banks which are already covered up by the pebbles.
“It is now said that given the banks are back where they belong, the plans may be revised.”
Current plans will be carried out alongside work by the military and is set to be complete by March 5.
A spokesman for the Crown Estate said: “In this case, the Environment Agency is responsible for coastal protection and therefore determines if further measures are needed to protect local communities and what these might be.
“As the owner of Chesil Beach we aren’t standing in the way of this process.”
• COUNCILLOR Ian Roebuck, spokesman for environment and sustainability, said: “Emergency repair works led by the Environment Agency are currently under way at Chesil Beach.
“The repairs are necessary to prevent a failure of the sea wall and are in the best interests of public safety.
“Engineers from the borough council are meeting with the Environment Agency and its contractors Royal Haskoning DHV this week to discuss the final designs to repair the sea wall at Chesil Beach.
“Once designs for the repairs have been finalised, a drop-in session will be publicised to make sure local people are kept informed of the programme of works.”
• EMERGENCY repair work costing hundreds of thousands of pounds is being carried out to strengthen Dorset’s sea defences.
It comes after some of the most devastating storms hit the Jurassic Coast, leaving Dorset with an estimated overall repair bill of millions of pounds.
The county is beginning to recover from the worst of the weather, which has left beaches and seafronts devastated, hundreds of properties flooded and farmland unusable.
The Environment Agency is working to protect the sea defences at Preston Beach and Chesil Beach on Portland.
Work at Preston Beach involves a ‘rock armour’ addition costing £300,000 and is scheduled to be complete in the next 10 days.
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