A NEW council partnership has been set up to protect Dorset residents from coastal flooding and to face the challenges created by rising sea levels.

Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council have joined together to form the Dorset Coastal Engineering Partnership which will provide a co-ordinated approach in the delivery of schemes to help protect residents and communities from coastal flooding and erosion.

The main functions of the new partnership will be to set long term strategies for managing the shoreline, maintain coastal assets and influence the industry though sound research and innovative techniques. It will also design and deliver large government funded projects.

Councillor Ray Bryan, portfolio holder for highways, travel & environment, Dorset Council said: "Historically, councils have individually managed coastal erosion for their respective authority, delivering ad-hoc projects in small teams.

"The partnership approach, which follows best practice in the industry, gives confidence that we can now better manage and prioritise schemes across the whole of the Dorset coastline. It also puts us in a better position to secure the necessary government funding, which is a complex process."

Councillor Dr Felicity Rice, portfolio holder for environment & climate change, BCP Council said: "Working together as one strong team to manage coastal erosion risk right across Dorset is great progress. By pooling our knowledge, expertise and resources, we have increased our resilience to deliver significant flood and coast protection schemes to look after our local communities.

"This will mean that we are better prepared to meet the significant challenges created by the climate crisis, including sea level rise and more frequent extreme storm events."

The Partnership will work closely with the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (WRFCC). They will consider the co-ordination of proposed schemes and how the costs and benefits of any investment can be spread between geographical areas, communities and sectors.

Ron Curtis, flood risk manager at Environment Agency Wessex, said: "The national strategy encourages councils to form partnerships, so we are delighted this section of the Dorset coastline is now being managed as one coastal-cell.

"As well as ensuring a fair allocation of funds to protect local communities, the partnership will be better able to communicate and involve people in the Dorset-wide coast protection policies. This is crucial as we continue to prepare for climate change, developing and providing solutions for managing coastal flood and erosion risk."

The new Dorset Coastal Engineering Partnership area stretches from Lyme Regis in the west to Chewton Bunny in the east.