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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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Cumbria MPs announce industrial investment conference

CUMBRIAN MPs Jamie Reed and John Woodcock have pledged to host a special conference this summer to help gear up for the “Olympic-scale” industrial investment planned for the west and south of the county over the next decade.

The MPs warned the area must urgently work together more closely in order to deliver successfully and maximise lasting benefit from “once in a lifetime” capital investment totalling more than the cost of the entire 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games build programme.

Projects being planned in south and west Cumbria include the construction of three new nuclear reactors at Moorside, worth at least £7bn, the £350m investment in GSK’s first new manufacturing facility in the UK in 40 years in Ulverston, £300m expansion of the Barrow shipyard so it can build the Vanguard successor submarines, wind turbines and gas production in Morecambe bay and the £1.7bn per year decommissioning process of parts of the Sellafield site. Much of this investment has been long-planned and is a result of a consensus forged by the previous government on civil nuclear, the deterrent and industrial investment in high-tech sectors.

Working with the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, the conference will bring together investors, employers, schools, colleges and councils to discuss how best to meet the challenge of delivering such massive expansion simultaneously, and ensuring that the coming investment maximises sustained jobs, skills and prosperity for all in Cumbria.

Barrow and Furness MP Mr Woodcock said: “The once-in-a-lifetime level of investment into this part of Cumbria is hugely exciting but we need to plan much more actively to avoid multi-billion pound bottlenecks that could hamper these nationally important projects. Equally, we must plan now avoid the mistakes of the past so the coming boom brings sustained benefit to the whole community, parts of which are currently suffering more despite parts of the economy succeeding.”

Copeland MP Mr Reed said: “The investment in civil nuclear power and other aspects of the Energy Coast has the potential to deliver thousands of highly-skilled, well-paid jobs for west Cumbria. What we urgently need now is a plan for how we ensure that the benefits spread beyond those directly employed and to the wider communities, delivering infrastructure, skills and opportunities across the area.

“This conference could provided a great opportunity to bring together everyone with an interest in spreading the prosperity that the investment can bring as widely as possible.”

George Beveridge, chair of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is an incredible time to be in Cumbria and we are determined to make the forthcoming era of investment a great success. The critically important projects on our south and west coasts is central to the county’s strategic economic vision and we are looking forward to bringing people together at this conference to pool our expertise and plan for our amazing future.”

The conference was announced during the budget debate in the House of Commons yesterday. Further details will be released shortly.

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