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Gas storage and nuclear fusion may boost Cumbrian economy

Cumbria Local Economic Partnership (LEP) highlighted key areas that it argues will boost the local economy in the future.

Cumbria's traditional sectors are high-end manufacturing and energy production, food production, and the visitor economy. The LEP wants the Government to enact policies which will strengthen all of these areas.

In the case of manufacturing, this would mean investing in major infrastructure projects. For the tourism economy, it would be a 'catalytic' investment in a big-ticket item and resolving staffing issues. For agriculture, it would mean looking at rural development grants.

This is in response to the pledges Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made to the country yesterday. Three of the five pledges were economic: halving inflation, growing the economy, and reducing the national debt.

Jo Lappin is the chief executive of Cumbria LEP. The LEPs are business-led partnerships between local authorities and the private sector. They help inform economic decision-making at government level to stimulate growth and job creation in their region.

Ms Lappin said: "A lot of investment goes into the research part of RND, we want to see some more going into the development side of it. Supporting manufacturing businesses is how we will grow the economy."

LEP led the bid for Cumbria is host the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production, which is the UK's first step into creating a nuclear fusion plant.

In December scientists in the US managed to create a fusion reaction that produced more energy than was put in. Cumbria lost the bid, coming in the top five, which Jo said the organisation was 'disappointed about:' "Cumbria needs to be competing for this as they will create long-term suitable jobs. Clean energy is attractive to people who are already here and people coming here."

Ms Lappin pointed to the Morecambe Bay Hydrogen and Carbon Capture facility operated by Spirit Energy, and the proposal for the Carlton Power hydrogen hub in Barrow as examples of energy projects that will create high-end manufacturing jobs and private-sector investment.

Five to six per cent of the UK's clean energy comes from Cumbria, and Ms Lappin said the county should play to that strength: "If we really want to change local performance we have got to be clear where the interests are (in the private sector) to develop Cumbria."

Gas storage and nuclear fusion may boost Cumbrian economy | The Mail (