BOURNEMOUTH councillors have approved a £43.7million project to protect the town’s beaches from erosion over the next 100 years.

The council’s position is to try and “hold the line” over the next century and tackle erosion by replenishing the beaches every three years, renewing all groynes and building some new ones.

It’s thought more than 3,000 homes could be lost to erosion otherwise.

At Wednesday’s meeting, cabinet members were told the first phase, which will last five years, will cost a total of £13.79m.

The council has applied for a flood defence grant to cover £11.35m of this, £1m is coming from the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and the remaining £1.44m will come from the council.

The entire project will span 17 years and will cost a total of £43.7m.

It will see the beaches topped up with around 210,000 cubic metres of sand and gravel every three years.

The 60-plus groynes will be renewed as they wear out and three additional groynes will be added between Boscombe Pier and Gordon’s Corner.

Cabinet members were told that the seafront is the town’s most valuable asset and underpins a tourism economy worth £472.8m.

Cllr David Smith, cabinet member for planning and environment, said: “Without intervention Bournemouth could face the loss of more than 3,000 homes to coastal erosion as well as drastic changes to the appearance of the coastline and the local environment, with a subsequent impact on our tourism economy.”

But opposition councillor Roger West said he did not think all options for protecting the beaches had been explored.

“I am also concerned that it is unlikely that the way these schemes are funded will last for many more years,” he said in an email to council leader John Beesley.

“The Environment Agency, like ourselves, is under severe financial pressure as we start to learn, as a country, to live within our means.

“Bournemouth benefits greatly from having this marvellous beach. It is possible that we might have to contribute more to keep it.”