UP to 8.5 gigawatts of electricity – enough for around six million homes – could be provided by more offshore wind turbines off the coast of England and Wales.

And some could be built off the coast of Cumbria.

The area of the Irish Sea has been named as one of the four “bidding areas” where renewable energy companies will be allowed to apply for permission.

The Crown Estate, which manages the seabed of British coastal waters, has spent 18 months choosing parts of the seabed that may be suitable for extra offshore wind power.

Dogger Bank, the eastern region and the south-east could also take them.

A tender process is to begin next month. The impact on nature conservation will then need to be investigated.

The projects could become operational by the late 2020s.