DRIFT and division at the top of government are clouding the future of Cumbria’s economy, with mounting fears about the new nuclear power station planned at Moorside in west Cumbria.

We cannot wait much longer for the government to realise that it must step in and rescue the stalled £15billion Moorside project, upon which more than 20,000 jobs depend. It has now been four years since the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority agreed terms with NuGen to build three reactors at Moorside near Sellafield.

Things took an unwelcome turn last year when the company lined up to supply the reactors filed for bankruptcy, and there have been other setbacks.

Just last week we heard that NuGen was forced to begin consultations with its staff following the start of a company re-structure because of the length of time the negotiations are taking.

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison and I have been pressing the government to support the project to the degree it is prepared to back a similar venture at Wylfa in Anglesey.

There, ministers have made clear they are exploring taking a direct stake in the new build. But despite the government making a show of commitment to the nuclear industry a few weeks ago when they published a new ‘sector deal’ for nuclear power, they have so far stubbornly maintained a hands-off approach to Moorside that is short-sighted and self-defeating.

Up to 21,000 local jobs and the county’s economic future are at stake here. So is Britain’s energy security - we need Moorside to ensure we can keep the lights on across the country in future decades.

That’s why energy companies, campaigners and trade unions are all demanding the government signals it would be prepared to take a direct stake or similar level of commitment, an argument Trudy and I have been making in parliament for years.

It is frustrating that when business secretary Greg Clark, who has overall responsibility for energy, visited west Cumbria on Tuesday he refused to meet with local MPs to discuss the future of Moorside. Trudy and I saw Richard Harrington, the junior minister in his team, last month but since then NuGen has announced it is restructuring and the situation has got more serious and urgent.

We will take it up back in parliament - government must accept they need to act to lift the cloud of uncertainty surrounding the deal. Securing more investment in Cumbria for projects like Moorside would be much easier if our own government finally honoured its commitment on upgrading our transport infrastructure.

This is why we must keep up the pressure for an upgrade to the A595 at the notorious Dove Ford pinch-point near Grizebeck. We have received an undertaking from Mr Harrington that he would become personally involved in trying to persuade the Department for Transport to make improvements at the bottleneck.

And as a further boost, roads minister Jesse Norman has instructed the Department for Transport to consider adding the A595 to the Major Road Network programme – which could see the plan have a share in £1bn of ring-fenced investment.