A MARINE study has boosted proposals for a marina linked to the redevelopment of Weymouth Pavilion.

But it emerged today that Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and developer Howard Holdings are still talking about just how many craft the marina might hold.

The study by engineering firms HR Wallingford and Fenton Holloway - which assessed what the marine impact of a marina might be - revealed no major problems.

Wallingford marine engineer Ian Cruickshank said the study had looked at four key areas - flow and flushing, wave disturbance, sedimentation transport and beach impacts.

He added: "The results are good. We have done four studies and they have revealed no major problems."

The study did show that breakwaters would cause some variation in wave activity. This could be dealt with by the use of perforated wave screens to minimise the change to levels acceptable for navigation, he said.

The beach would also become wider at the Pavilion end and narrower at the Pier bandstand end, something which could be dealt with using sand dredged from the marina, he said, adding that sand had been building up anyway at the Pavilion end of the beach for the last 140 years.

Howard Holdings regional director Gary Charman said that the company was still talking with the council about how many berths might be possible.

Original proposals suggested nearly 350 berths but the council later balked at that and sent a strong message that 150 berths was their preferred level.

Mr Charman said: "The area created by the proposed marina can equally accommodate 150 craft or 300 craft.

"What we now have to do is discuss with the council which level is most appropriate for their aims, the demand for yachting berths and the need for a marina to be commercially viable."

Weymouth and Portland special projects spokesman Coun Howard Legg described the study results as reassuring'.

He added: "That study is now being assessed by council advisors prior to councillors discussing it with Howard Holdings.

"Those talks will include debate on the size of the marina which has still to be finally decided on but which will not be more than 300 berths."

The study itself was based on a 300-berth marina since it was commissioned before the council asked for a cut to 150 berths, so any impacts would be correspondingly smaller for a smaller marina, said Mr Charman.

He added: "The study results are fantastic news.

"It is a major step forward in confirming that the marina proposals would not have a detrimental effect on the beach-bay-harbour."

The study also shows a potential boost for Weymouth's beach since, if the marina goes ahead, excavated sand could contribute towards the Pavilion end being 40 metres wider.

Mr Cruickshank added: "All in all it is good news. There are some impacts but they can be mitigated and managed."

Engineering consultant Richard Fenton said that breakwater piling would need to go down about 72ft through sand, then silt and finally into Oxford clay to ensure stability.

He added: "The marina area will also have to be dredged from about 1.5 metres to ensure an overall depth for boats of about 3.5 metres at low tide."

The study also showed that beach pollutant levels from accidental release in the marina or harbour would not be much different from that experienced at present.