THE COUNCIL is launching a project to regenerate the economy and make the most of Copeland's skills base in time for the ramping down of operations at Sellafield.

The Industrial Solutions Hub (ISH) project will run as a Copeland Borough Council owned company, designed to prepare for the shrinking of available jobs at Sellafield when the decommissioning process wraps-up.

ISH is an economic initiative designed to grow the already strong industry and clean energy skills in the area.

Copeland Council purchased Leconfield Industrial Estate in January 2021 and in partnership with Sellafield Limited, the authority is set to redevelop the site into a enterprise and innovation park.

READ MORE: Major step forward for Cleator Moor Industrial Solutions Hub bid

The business cluster will form part of the Cleator Moor Innovation Quarter and 35 businesses have already expressed an interest in becoming tenants.

John Maddison, managing director of the Industrial Solutions Hub project said: “As operations decrease on the site and work starts to tail off, that’s going to have an impact on jobs what we’re trying to do with this is tap into all the good things that exist around Sellafield already.”

He mentioned robotics as one of the innovative skills being developed at Sellafield which can benefit the area after operations decrease at the site.

“They could be the core of the future economy. ISH will be set up as a company in its own right but that company will be owned by the council.”

Mr Maddison told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the response from West Cumbrian businesses has been welcome.

“Once we went out there and talked to businesses and different organisations, the million-dollar question is: is there going to be interest?”

And he said that the response “far exceeded” expectations.

Copeland Council’s portfolio holder for nuclear and corporate services David Moore believes it is an exciting time for the area.

“For some time we’ve been aware of the huge skills on-site, they’re doing first-of-a-kind clean-up on the nuclear site which are skills required around the world.”

Councillor Moore said that the Leconfield enterprise park “allows them to develop technologies but also export that skill.

“The idea would be that wherever you’re doing nuclear clean-up, anywhere in the world, the place you need to come to for support and skill is West Cumbria. Whether you’re clean-up in Japan or the states, we’re developing that technology here.”

The Industrial Solutions Hub has been included in Copeland’s bid to provide a home for a STEP nuclear fusion reactor at Moorside as well as Small Modular Reactors.

Cllr Moore said: “We’ve got that support and supply chain already sitting here.”