Urgent work is planned to prevent erosion undermining the coast road north of Maryport.

On advice of specialise coastal engineers, Cumbria County Council plans to install rock armour on the beach alongside the B5300.

It is seeking permission from the marine bosses to install the defences.

The news comes days after Bill James, owner of Bank Mill Visitor Centre at Beckfoot, said he feared his business could be jeopardised if action was not taken.

In times of bad weather, drivers are often prevented from accessing his business directly because of road closures at Dubmill Point.

Mr James, who says he gets 60 per cent of his business from West Cumbria, said he feared the whole road could soon be undermined and washed away.

Two years ago Mr James led a petition for action to be taken to protect the road, which links Maryport to Silloth.

Now, however, he says the problem has got far worse, with just an estimated five yards of beach left between the sea and the carriageway at one point.

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In recent years, stone-filled gabions have been placed along the coast north of Dubmill Point to help protest the coastline from erosion. But Mr James said many of them had been washed out of position and damaged by strong waves, rendering them useless.

If more effective work was done, Mr James said, it would protect the road - and businesses along it - in the long term.

And, he said, it would reduce the amount of debris thrown onto the road when high tides and high winds combine, decreasing the frequency of closures on the road.

Mr James said: “We are dependant on traffic coming in from West Cumbria. About 60 per cent of our customers come from the west. When they decide to shut the road we may as well shut shop.

“By the time you go to Aspatria then Silloth and back down to Allonby you’re adding 20 minutes to your journey to get to us.”

A county council spokesman said: “We are aware of the erosion issues at Dubmill point and funding has been allocated for coastal defence work here. We are now awaiting consent from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) before the works begin. Monitoring will continue until the required MMO consent has been given.

“During the recent Storm Erik the road was closed on safety grounds to allow debris to be removed from the carriageway and reopened when it was safe to do so.”

The spokesman said it would install the armour, which will be in two layers with a base layer of interlocking blocks beneath the level of the beach, as soon as possible.