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West Cumbria is poised to deliver over 3,000 new jobs in the next 15 years by capitalising on the potential £90 billion worth of investment in the nuclear industry and seizes new opportunities in renewable technologies, according to the West Cumbria Economic Blueprint.
The new strategy was unveiled by economic development organisation Britain’s Energy Coast at event held today (Friday, June 15) at the iconic training and conference centre Energus, near Workington. Around 200 delegates mainly representing the vibrant mix of SMEs and large multinationals that make up West Cumbria’s business fabric, heard inspirational speeches and presentations that urged businesses and local public sector organisations to think big, think differently and work together to help deliver what has been described as the “most exciting economic prospect in the history of West Cumbria”. The West Cumbria Economic Blueprint (Blueprint) is available to download at www.britainsenergycoast.co.uk.
The Blueprint details a range of activities that will help West Cumbrian companies benefit from planned investments in the local nuclear sector – which range from new build and recycling to storage and decommissioning, and to actively seek new opportunities nationally and internationally with nations such as Germany and Japan.
It also urges companies to use their specialist manufacturing and engineering capabilities, as well as the knowledge and intellectual property contained within Sellafield and world-class research facilities such as Manchester University’s Dalton Cumbrian Facility and the National Nuclear Laboratory, to tap into existing and emerging Clean Technologies such as hydro, biomass and solar.
Gerry McGill of URS Corporation and the Vice Chairman of Britain’s Energy Coast, said: “Here in West Cumbria, we need to continue to think big and be confident about what we have to offer. West Cumbria is at the forefront of helping to secure Britain’s energy needs and meet the Government’s low carbon economy agenda. Very few places are facing these significant levels of investment we are but we need to ensure businesses and communities feel the impact in their pockets.
“The aim of Britain’s Energy Coast is to build on the strong foundations we’ve laid in West Cumbria and to elevate our efforts to the next level. We are here to support the economy in a variety of ways – as an advocate for the region and taking West Cumbria into a global market; as a facilitator who links ideas with funding, and where necessary as an organisation that intervenes to ensure action. But ultimately success will be down to the entrepreneurs and their willingness to think big, think differently and innovate.”
The common theme running through the Blueprint is innovation and it suggests that the Britain’s Energy Coast brand should be promoted globally to investors as a place that actively encourages and supports new thinking and new ideas. The term “innovation zone” has been coined to explain the abundance of opportunities available to businesses and inward investors in West Cumbria’s disparate but well-connected economy.
The Blueprint translates the high level economic vision for West Cumbria into seven areas for investment including support for Applied Research, Research & Development/ Demonstration and Enterprise to improving physical and digital infrastructure and the quality and range of business sites and premises, including Westlakes Science & Technology Park.
Tom Gilroy, Acting Chief Executive of Britain’s Energy Coast, said: “We have clear direction for where we are going to invest our time and money. We cannot get distracted from the task at hand which is realising the economic potential of West Cumbria.”
Mr Gilroy pointed to the strong support the Blueprint has had nationally and locally. The foreword of the Blueprint has been signed by two Government Ministers – Charles Hendry, Minister of State for the Department of Energy & Climate Change, and Mark Prisk Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, Department of Business, Innovation & Skills.
He added; “To have this level of support from Government and from departments not just focused on energy but business development, innovation and enhancing skills, is superb. We cannot underestimate the strength of the Britain’s Energy Coast brand and its local and national significance. This is why it is essential that we deliver on what we say.”
Professor John Fyfe CBE is an independent specialist on partnerships who has provided a vital link between West Cumbria and Government for more than 20 years. He told the event that working in partnership was as important as ever. “It may be a cliché but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we simply have to take it and with both hands. We may have the support of Government but at the end of the day no one body can deliver the Blueprint in isolation. It is going to require the long term commitment of the public and private sectors. This is the challenge West Cumbria now faces.”
The event was also an opportunity for the funders of Britain’s Energy Coast – Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd and Nuclear Management Partners – to pledge their support. They stressed their commitment to the innovation zone by helping to develop the expertise of the Sellafield workforce and supporting supply chain; ensuring West Cumbria is recognised as world leader in nuclear decommissioning, spent fuel and integrated waste management; further developing the expertise of the current workforce and supply chain to enhance business opportunities and supporting the role of Britain’s Energy Coast Campus (education sector) and Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (supply chain).
John Clarke Chief Executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, said: “We believe West Cumbria should be recognised as a vibrant area in which to live, work and do business, with a key role in delivering the UK’s Energy Policy. Key to success is positioning and developing the area as an international centre of excellence in innovative technology-based industries that provide genuine opportunities for business diversification, based upon the fundamental strengths of its nuclear capability.”
Delegates were told that the next step is to develop a detailed implementation plan that will identify individual projects that will be taken forward and delivered.