A former US Navy admiral turned BNFL director has been voted in as chairman of Copeland council’s nuclear board.

Members of the authority’s Strategic Nuclear and Energy Board nominated Steven Morgan because of his extensive experience within the industry.

Councillor Sam Pollen nominated him because he is politically neutral, and acceptable to Conservative and Labour members of the panel.

Coun Morgan, who also serves on the executive and the standards and ethics committee, vowed to help turn around West Cumbria’s economic fortunes as part of his pre-election pledge.

He has worked on submarines, in the civil service on both sides of the Atlantic, has had high-profile jobs in the nuclear industry.

Latterly, he helped lead the building of Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 and the recovery after the troubled opening of Terminal 5.

Having been a full-time naval officer and then a reservist, Coun Morgan spent much of his civilian life in the nuclear industry.

When he retired from the military just before the Gulf War, he was headhunted by BNFL to work at Sellafield.

His role saw him prepare the nuclear plant for the transfer from government ownership to Nuclear Management Partners. When NMP took over, Coun Morgan was among a host of senior managers who were axed.

He then moved south to work for BAA at Heathrow and the Ministry of Defence, but kept his home in Rowrah.

He was inspired to take on a key community role by the late Mark Birkett, of Isel Hall, amid concerns the area had lost its community fathers with the demise of BNFL, Marchon and mining.

As a military man, Coun Morgan feels a duty to his comrades in arms and it was this that led to him becoming chairman of Calderwood House in Egremont.

He is also a volunteer board member for the Newcastle NHS trust which provides some of north Cumbria’s services, has been president of Whitehaven Sea Cadets, and assists the Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster with strategic planning.

He also has ambitious plans to help the area’s economy diversify away from dependence on Sellafield towards manufacturing and international export – and to give local graduates a reason to come back to the region.