A West Cumbrian coast road will be shut until further notice after inspectors found it was dangerously close to the sea.

Cumbria County Council highways inspectors visited the B5300 between Maryport and Silloth this afternoon following concerns about coastal erosion creeping ever closer to the carriageway.

A spokesman said the width of land between the road and the sea was now down to 2.9m. At the last inspection just before Christmas, he added, it was 4.8m.

An emergency traffic order has been put in place, prohibiting all traffic, including cyclists and pedestrians, from using a 1.9km stretch of the road north of Allonby.

The closure begins at the junction with the C2013, which heads towards Mawbray and Abbeytown, and continues to the next junction to the south west, which heads towards Edderside.

The closure notice stated the road has been shut "because of the likelihood of danger to the public as a result of coastal erosion".

Drivers are asked to follow a diversion along the B5301 and A596, taking traffic via Aspatria.

A council spokesman said: "The council has closed the B5300 at Dubmill Point with immediate effect due to the continued erosion of the coastline, which is now too close to the edge of the road to keep the road open safely.

"The council is working closely with a range of partners, including the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to begin strengthening works as soon as possible.

"This requires a licence from the MMO, which is expected within the next two to three weeks. Works to reinstate and strengthen the bank and reopen the road will begin as soon as possible following receipt of the licence. In this interim period, the council will be preparing the site compound in preparation for the licence being issued.

"Funding in the region of £281,000 has already been set aside to carry out these urgent works."

A spokesperson for the Marine Management Organisation said: “The MMO are aware of the urgency of the works and will endeavour to provide a determination on the marine licence application as soon as possible. We are in regular contact with the applicant and the case is currently being reviewed prior to a shortened consultation.”