Hundreds of key players in the nuclear industry are in Carlisle today for the first-ever Cumbria Nuclear Conference.

They arrived in the city yesterday for a dinner at The Halston Aparthotel, on Warwick Road, and are today at Carlisle Racecourse for a series of speeches and seminars.

Last night's event was attended by Greg Clark, the new Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy, John Clarke, the chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency and former Defence Secretary and Barrow MP Lord Hutton.

Today's will feature Tom Samson, chief executive of NuGen which has plans to build a new power plant at Moorside, near Sellafield, Pete Lutwyche, the NDA's chief operating officer and Paul Howarth, managing director of the National Nuclear Laboratory.

As well as speeches from industry figures, today's event will also feature seminars on the skills agenda, professional services and the supply chain.

This conference has been organised by Carlisle's MP John Stevenson, who has been impressed with the response it has received.

He said: "I am delighted and slightly taken aback at the interest that there has been in the conference; we had a full house last night and have one today, with a reserve list.

"Whether things happen in Barrow, Workington, Carlisle or wherever it is beneficial to all to us in Cumbria."

More than 300 people were expected to attend this conference.

Mr Samson was pleased that the event was happening and re-stated the need for nuclear new build in the UK.

He said: “Nuclear new build will have a huge positive impact for the UK economy, with the creation of significant economic activity across the UK nuclear and construction industries and will also be an important catalyst for regional development activities within those communities closest to our site in West Cumbria.”

Mr Clarke added: “More than half of our annual £3bn budget is spent in the supply chain and we are always keen to develop a better understanding of its capabilities, as well as share potential future opportunities.”

Cockermouth firm WYG is the event's sponsor and Clive Anderson, WYG's head of major projects, will give a keynote address.

Craig Hatch, WYG’s head of asset management based in Cockermouth, said: “We have a proud nuclear heritage that spans over 20 years with the work we have conducted locally at Sellafield, the Low Level Waste Repository, and Chapelcross.

"But we also have a long standing involvement in the regeneration of Cumbria in other sectors.

"Local flagship projects we have worked on including North West Coast Connections, connecting Cumbria’s new power station to the National Grid, Albion Square offices, Cockermouth Hospital, Workington Leisure Centre, and Energus, to name but a few.”