A VISION to make West Cumbria an innovation and clean energy skills hub has taken a step forward today as councillors have voted to submit an application for Government funding.

An extraordinary meeting of Copeland Council took place today to agree that a funding bid be submitted, supporting the Industrial Solutions Hub (iSH) project.

iSH is an initiative to prepare for the ramping down of operations at Sellafield, which in the long term will mean a contraction in the number of jobs available.

READ MORE: West Cumbria to become go-to skills hotbed under Copeland Council project

Copeland Council purchased Leconfield Industrial Estate in 2019 and intend to redevelop the site into a business, innovation and enterprise park.

The campus for iSH will form the new Cleator Moor Innovation Quarter.

Councillors voted today to submit an application to Government for Levelling-Up funding which would be used for future redevelopment of the iSH Enterprise Campus at Leconfield.

The recommendations approved included the acceptance of £7 million from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s Socio Economic Fund and £2.329 million from Sellafield’s social impact fund.

The funding from Sellafield will support the first year operations of iSH as well as site planning activities at Leconfield.

READ MORE: 35 businesses express interest in populating Leconfield enterprise park

Proposals for Leconfield are also covered by the Enterprising Town aspect of Cleator Moor’s Town Deal bid.

Councillor David Moore, nuclear and commercial services portfolio holder said: "When we look at the Industrial Solutions Hub, it's going to be something of international benefit, it's not just local, it has international and national permutations.

"We took the lead on this when we bought the Leconfield estate, we've always had that vision to have the iSH here.

"And as the nuclear industry at Sellafield starts to complete its clean-up work, we'll need to look at international markets where we're going to expand and bring in that new skill base.

"That's one of the important things we want to get from this. When people are looking for solutions not just in nuclear but in oil and gas, in engineering, where's the go-to place? The go-to place for solutions is Cleator Moor and I think that's a fantastic thing to have in our area."

READ MORE: Plans to regenerate Leconfield industrial estate in Cleator Moor on show to residents