WORK to improve protection against flooding will get underway at Weymouth beach this week.

Dorset Council has announced it will start to lower the level of the beach near the sea wall tomorrow to help protect seafront properties from coastal flooding.

The work, which is expected to take up to three days, is also aimed at reducing wind erosion.

Engineers will lower the height of the beach so there is less chance of waves coming over the wall.

The work is being done in co-ordination with Weymouth Town Council.

According to the Environment Agency, the beach has recently been identified "as being an integral part of flood and erosion risk management needs".

Last year, bosses stressed that the town is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise with the number of properties currently at risk - around 450 - expected to increase to 2,150 by 2115.

An excavator and a mini-digger will be used to reduce the level of the sand by around 70cm, mainly along the southern end of the seafront.

Excavators will then move beach material back from the sea wall and a bulldozer will level it across the beach.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council spokesman for environment, highways and travel, said: "This work is important to help protect Weymouth seafront from coastal flooding and wind erosion. Lowering the beach will reduce the risk of waves coming over the wall. The work is expected to take up to three days and we apologise for any inconvenience."

Cllr Jon Orrell, who represents the seafront Melcombe Regis area on Dorset Council, said: "This work is welcome in the short term, recognising that in medium term we will need to do substantially more to protect the town from climate breakdown."

Dorset Council says it has a beach management plan relating to sea defences and also works closely with the town council and its own beach management team.

In summer, a spokesman for Environment Agency said it had approved the allocation of £55,0000 of flood defence grant in aid "for the necessary investigations to complete the beach management plan."

Similar beach levelling work has been done previously.

But calls have also been made to improve the town's flood defences around Weymouth Harbour after heavy rain led to roads in the area being swamped by water last month.

Work is currently underway to strengthen part of the harbour wall near the Pavilion but it is claimed the town needs major works to prevent damaging flooding in the future.

Geoff Kirby, who has written a book about the history of flooding in Weymouth, said: "I have lived in Weymouth since 1962 and have never seen the sea threatening to flood the town from the beach and Esplanade side of the town.

"I do not believe that the threat from the beach side of the town is significant compared with the threat of flooding from the inadequate existing harbour sea wall being overwhelmed by sea level rise."