Cumbria has a key role to play in delivering clean growth through the North West ‘Coastal Arc’ consortium.

That is the verdict of Jo Lappin, chief executive of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, following the publication of a new report that outlines the leading role an area stretching from Cumbria to North Wales can play in decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy.

The ‘Clean and Sustainable Growth’ report – the result of a Government-commissioned Science Innovation Audit (SIA) led by Lancaster University – has found that the North West ‘Coastal Arc’ area has the potential to be world leading in driving clean and sustainable growth by building on its existing strong track record.

It outlines the unique geographical, natural, industrial and scientific assets across a region which also includes Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire, and makes the case for a series of developments to help drive down global carbon emissions.

These include the creation of an International Centre of Excellence for Clean and Sustainable Growth, to provide businesses with access to expertise and facilities; a virtual Clean Growth Training Academy to develop skills; a region-wide funding programmes for research and development involving SMEs; and marketing of the economic and social benefits of clean and sustainable growth to businesses and communities.

The North West ‘Coastal Arc’ consortium was formed in 2017 and includes several universities, including the University of Cumbria, along with Local Enterprise Partnerships.

For Mrs Lappin, Cumbria has a significant role to play in delivering on the consortium’s ambitions.

“Cumbria's involvement in the 'Coastal Arc' initiative is a real chance to boost our economy and bring in green energy investment, skilled jobs and supply chain opportunities,” she said.

“The future potential for Cumbria is significant as we already have strong capability in offshore wind and developing proposals on tidal energy initiatives.

“Renewable energy is a major theme in the new Local Industrial Strategy, and this will be taken forward by our Ideas and Innovation Strategy Group. We are also finalising an Energy Plan for the county with the Carbon Trust, looking at low carbon, green or renewable energy projects which contribute to more sustainable economic growth.”

The North West ‘Coastal Arc’ consortium’s work is a response to the pressing need for urgent action to combat climate change and the economic opportunities tackling it presents. Clean growth has been identified as one of the Government’s four Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges. Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore has made a commitment to building on the nation’s strengths in science and research to deliver action.

Paul Armstrong, deputy director: growth and partnerships at the University of Cumbria, said: “The university has a role to play in the promotion of economic prosperity and clean and sustainable growth. 

“We currently lead the eco-innovation programme, supporting SMEs in Cumbria with access to specialist knowledge and academically supported research, to promote innovation and reduce their carbon footprint.”

Lancaster University vice-chancellor, professor Mark E. Smith added: “We start from a position of strength and this audit lays the foundations for accelerated action on Clean and Sustainable Growth, understanding and exploiting our particular strengths through collaboration and strategic investment.

“Our priority now is to secure the region’s global leadership in developing eco-innovative products, services and technologies – the solutions needed to deliver Clean and Sustainable Growth in the coming decades and drive growth across our key regional business sectors.”

The Government announced regional SIAs in 2015 in a fresh approach to driving economic development, bringing together academia and business to analyse regional strengths and identify opportunities.