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WEST CUMBRIA TO BE FIRST BENEFICIARY OF PUBLIC PRIVATE AND SOCIAL PARTNERHIP

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The secretary of state for trade and industry, Patricia Hewitt, has ...
The secretary of state for trade and industry, Patricia Hewitt, has

announced a groundbreaking regeneration taskforce for West Cumbria to

ensure the region's long-term socio-economic welfare in light of the

new decommissioning focus at Sellafield.

The government has acted to ensure continued security for the region

once the employment and economic changes of transition to clean up

activities begin to take effect following the establishment of the

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in 2005.

The new taskforce will build on existing local and regional

partnerships and be responsible for developing an overarching

regeneration plan that will oversee the needs of the entire community

- social, educational, economic and infrastructure.

The secretary of state said: 'West Cumbria's history of involvement

in the nuclear industry made it the ideal choice for the location of

the NDA but we also recognised that the change in focus to clean up

activities would, in time, have an effect on the socio-economic

stability of the region. These concerns could not be ignored.

'That is why today I am announcing this forward looking taskforce to

protect and enhance the regeneration of the region. We are already

addressing short-term regeneration issues and this new taskforce

shows we are prepared for the long-term as well. The future role of

West Cumbria in our clean up agenda is in safe hands.

'The government's confidence in the expertise West Cumbria brings to

the nuclear industry, and the fundamental role it will play in

nuclear clean up, is clear. Today we are building on the many

measures already in place to assist the region in this transitional

phase, and we remain fully committed to generating new growth and

opportunities for the region.'

The taskforce will be led by the Northwest Development Agency

and will include the urban regeneration company, West Lakes

Renaissance as well as the relevant governmen t departments - DTI,

DEFRA, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Department for

Transport - and existing local economic and social partnerships.

It will operate together with the two existing specialist

regeneration vehicles already working to deal with the immediate

needs of the area (West Lakes Renaissance and Rural Regeneration

Cumbria, established by the NWDA) and in addition to the existing

financial commitment of more than £100 million over the next five

years.

The taskforce is a vital component in delivering the policy

objectives set out in the 'Managing the Nuclear Legacy' White Paper

July 2002 - namely establishing the NDA - and is also consistent with

the commitment to keep the nuclear option open as stated in the

Energy White Paper February 2003.

Steven Broomhead, NWDA chief executive, said: 'The agency is

committed to ensuring that growth opportunities continue to be

generated for the important nuclear sector in West Cumbria, following the new focus on decommissioning. The industry is

facing a period of major transition, but there are significant

opportunities to be grasped. The establishment of a West Cumbria

Taskforce, that we will lead, will compliment the work already being

carried out by the Urban Regeneration Company, West Lakes

Renaissance.

'We have a world class workforce in the nuclear sector in Cumbria,

that must be retained and enhanced. The Agency will continue to work

in collaboration with partners, providing the focus required to move

the industry forward.

Notes

1. West Cumbria is recognised by the North West Development Agency as

a high priority for regeneration and there is already substantial

support being channelled into the area.

2. Two specialist regeneration vehicles have been set up to deal with

the current needs of the area. These are the Urban Regeneration

Company, West Lakes Renaissance, and the Rural Regeneration Company.

3. West Lakes Ren aissance has a budget in excess of £100m to invest

in regeneration activities for the area over the next 5 years.

4. The arrival of the NDA and the government's new focus at

Sellafield towards decommissioning and clean up will alter the socio

economic landscape of the area.

5. Current projections show no immediate impact on jobs and the

expectation based on BNFL's current business plan is that employment

levels will remain stable until 2012. Hence there is no immediate

cause for concern.

6. Beyond 2012, clean up may well impact job numbers and the

dependency of the West Cumbrian economy is such that this could have

a significant impact on the area if nothing is done to prevent.

7. HMG and the NWDA therefore want to take action now to pre-empt the

consequences of the site transitioning to clean up and ensure the

social and economic well being of the West Cumbrian community is

safeguarded.

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