This summer the government launched Great British Nuclear (GBN), a body which they say will create a "massive revival" of the sector across the country. 

The government says GBN will work to drive the rapid expansion of new nuclear power plants in the UK at an unprecedented scale and pace and companies can now register their interest to participate in a competition to secure funding. This could result in billions of pounds of public and private sector investment in small modular reactor (SMR) projects in the UK. 

On its launch, energy security secretary Grant Shapps said: “Britain has a rich history as a pioneer of nuclear power, having launched the era of civil nuclear power - and I’m proud to be turbocharging its revival and placing our country once again at the forefront of global innovation. 

“By rapidly boosting our homegrown supply of nuclear and other clean, reliable, and abundant energy, we will drive down bills for British homes and make sure the UK is never held to energy ransom by tyrants like Putin.” 

But what does the launch mean for the Cumbrian economy? Here, some of the county’s leading figures in the sector and politicians have their say on what the new scheme means for the area. 

Solway Community Power Company have in the last year been seen as a key player in the revival of Cumbria’s nuclear mission, with an aim to have SMRs as part of the UK's energy mix the early 2030s. 

Solway Community Power Company Ltd chair and nuclear specialist Paul Foster believes Rolls-Royce SMR is the most ​realistic deployable technology, with Cumbria as the "most compelling" location due to its strong skills base and supply chain. 

He said: “It’s good that Britain has set out an ambition for higher levels of new nuclear in the coming decades and it’s entirely appropriate and encouraging that GBN has been created to ensure that the programme is successful. 

“What I would say, though, is that if you are spending government money you have to be highly prudent and run the correct competitions. In trying to achieve the targets, being solely government funded is not going to get us where we need to get to, so we are in discussion with GBN and the government over fully privately funded money, fully privately funded projects, and are ready to start now. 

“GBN is a good thing but on its own it’s not enough, it needs to be done in parallel with the private sector, which can act quicker and has easier access to capital.” 

Chief executive of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster, Dianne Richardson, has said the launch of Great British Nuclear allows Cumbria to be at the forefront in leading the way for the country’s "nuclear renaissance". 

Talking about the launch of GBN she said: “The launch of Great British Nuclear is a step forward for the UK. We are looking forward to supporting GBN to drive the UK's offering for clean energy forward with the necessary speed to protect consumers' energy supplies and our climate over the next decades with a diverse nuclear fleet across Small Modular Reactors, Advanced Modular Reactors, large scale nuclear and hopefully at some point in the future, through fusion.  

“We must maximise on the spin off potential from nuclear for our communities with the provision of a reliable energy source which our area could use as an attraction for energy hungry industries bringing economic development and jobs for the future. Britain's Energy Coast Business Cluster members have the capability to contribute and stand ready to deliver when the SMR competition is completed later this year.  

“As nuclear comes to the forefront again after years of being in the wilderness we must ensure that the nuclear regions, who collaborate via a group chaired by our BECBC deputy chair Ruth Sellick, are front and centre to contribute their knowledge and experience while making informed decisions about the nuclear solutions which work for their communities. 

“As an area that has specialised in first-of-a-kind nuclear technology for decades, we are in a strong position to lead the way here in Cumbria as the UK begins its nuclear renaissance.” 

The launch took place on July 18 and was attended by numerous figures in the industry as well as politicians from across the UK. Workington MP Mark Jenkinson attended the event and has said that the launch could create over 17,000 jobs across the county. 

Mr Jenkinson said: “The announcement is great news for West Cumbria, with GB Nuclear set to support the continuation and creation of over 17,000 jobs in Cumbria - more than 80 per cent of which are in West Cumbria. 

“We have some really exciting West Cumbrian projects in the blocks, waiting for the starting gun - from Rolls Royce SMR; industry talking in detail to vendors of Advanced Modular Reactors; and operators with interest in gigascale nuclear at Moorside. 

“Recent regulatory changes have made the funding of nuclear projects easier and offer greater investment security, reducing risk which has historically been a barrier.” 

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison believes the scheme leaves West Cumbria with "the most to gain". Talking of Great British Nuclear she said: ““This has been nearly two decades in the making, since the 'switch it off, knock it down Energy Act of 2004' we have stalled on nuclear. 

“As the centre of nuclear excellence, with some 27,000 workers locally, our area was at the forefront of the civil atomic journey and, because of the unique skills we have, we in West Cumbria stand the most to gain by this resurgence.” 

However, some remain sceptical of the plans, worrying that the scheme falls short of ambition for nuclear power in Cumbria. 

Josh MacAlister, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Whitehaven and Workington, said: “I wholeheartedly back new nuclear because it's key to our future. West Cumbria has the people, plans and energy to start building new nuclear now. 

“But the latest government announcement falls well short of local ambition - we need action and urgency. Instead, we’re getting glacial progress. 

“We’ve had 13 years of broken promises, jam tomorrow and flashy announcements from the Tories, but still no new nuclear. This is now urgent because we could lead the race for new industrial and manufacturing jobs with the clean, reliable energy that nuclear provides. 

“A year on from the announcement of Great British Nuclear, we still have no roadmap to get new nuclear here.”