DON'T panic - an oil spill operation in Weymouth Harbour is just an exercise, residents are being told.

The training exercise - code name 'Exercise Bowser' - will be held in Weymouth next week to make sure the harbour team, emergency services and other organisations are prepared in case there is ever an oil spill in the harbour.

It will be held on Tuesday November 19 in Weymouth Harbour, near the ferry steps.

The Weymouth Harbour Team arranged the event to meet requirements set out by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The practise must be carried out every three years.

Keith Howorth, Weymouth Harbour Master, said: “It is important that these training exercises are carried out to make sure we are prepared in case the worst occurs. We hope any inconvenience will be minimal.”

Dorset Council has advised that use of the harbour will not be restricted. Harbour users have been asked to be careful near the exercise, which might involve booms and other equipment.

Organisations taking part in the exercise include the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Marine Management Organisation, the Emergency Services, Portland Port, the RSPB, the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.