A new wind farm off the coast of West Cumbria would be “highly controversial”, members of Copeland’s energy board have warned.

An area stretching from north west of Maryport to south west of Sellafield has been earmarked as one of five potential sites for offshore developments as part of the Government’s target for UK greenhouse gas emissions to hit net zero by 2050.

While detailed plans have not yet been revealed and the Irish Sea site is still in the leasing process, Copeland Council nuclear and energy officer Mitchell McCombe recommended the authority should consider preparing a position statement to outline its stance.

Councillor Sam Pollen, who sits on the council’s strategic nuclear and energy board, said at a virtual meeting on Monday that the plans would be contentious.

He said: "It's a highly controversial project to say the least.

“It’s vital that we get our position statement right so yes, I would absolutely agree that we need to talk about it.

“There will be varying views out there in Copeland of course; many people would rather have a wind farm than a nuclear site actually.”

The Crown Estate, which manages the seabed of British coastal waters, is undertaking a leasing process for sites around the UK with a view to contributing towards the Government’s energy needs from offshore wind.

Other areas identified for potential wind farms include Dogger Bank, the eastern region and the south-east.

Councillor Felicity Wilson stressed the importance of finding out what benefits a development could bring for the local communities and economy.

She added: “Wind farms are a little bit emotive in our area because of the beauty of it but we already have I believe the world’s biggest wind farm site off our coast.

“I’m not a great fan but time moves on, we need energy, the communities need energy and I think we’ve got to look at every available opportunity.”

Councillor David Moore, who admitted he was “not a great lover” of wind energy, warned the turbines would make those off the coast of Walney look like “babies”.

“I look forward to us developing that position statement and I think it’s one that will create a lot of interest and debate in Copeland,” he added.