A businessman has hit out at plans to install rock armour along the Maryport to Silloth coast road, claiming it is not enough to prevent the beach being washed away and the road undermined.

Bill James, owner of Bank Mill Visitor Centre at Beckfoot, last week called for urgent action to be taken to protect the B5300 near his business.

Cumbria County Council responded by saying it is seeking permission to install large rocks along the road to protect the road.

But Mr James says that alone will not provide long-term protection.

He has been campaigning for work to be done for years and was behind a public meeting held about two years ago about the problem.

He said: "The reason that the beach has washed away is because the county council did not follow the whole idea of the public meeting.

"The groynes were missing. The beach was washing away. They have done nothing to stabilise it.

"The sea at Dubmill doesn't come in straight from Scotland, it comes in from the Isle of Man direction. That drags the sand and the stones with it.

"Rock armour won't do the job. It will help but it's not going to stop the waves hitting it.

"Unless the job is done properly we're going to have a lot of problems. Rock armour won't stop the sea wall and the road being undermined.

"The sand is drawn from underneath the stones. The stones eventually just sink into the beach."

Mr James believes the only way to protect the remaining beach is to install pile-driven groynes along the beach north of Dubmill Point.

That, he said, would slow the sea water and prevent so much of the beach being washed sideways and out to sea.

He said he would write to Cumbria Highways, the county council's roads department, to raise his concerns.

RELATED: Cumbria County Council plans urgent work planned as erosion threatens Maryport to Silloth road

A council spokesman confirmed that the rock armour had been proposed as the most appropriate solution for the area by the Marine Management Organisation, the government body responsible for licensing, managing and planning marine activities in seas around England.

He said: "They're telling us these are the measures they would wish us to take in this location.

"We have identified funding. We are ready to go. We can't do any work there at all until the MMO give us consent to do this work on their behalf."

The area, he added, was not among those considered to be of emergency priority by the MMO, and it would be illegal for the council to do any sea defence work without the government body's consent.

The spokesman said: "We are absolutely committed to doing this defence work in exactly the way the MMO has suggested we do it."

New groynes would not be permitted at the site, he added, because of the impact they would have on the nearby nature reserve.