QUESTIONS will be raised at a meeting this week on the implications of the Government’s decision to select Cumbria as one of the areas to benefit from ‘Investment Zones.’

Cumberland Council is set to meet at Lakes College in Workington on Tuesday October 18 to make a number of decisions, shaping how the new authority will operate when it takes over on April 1, 2023.

It follows an announcement in the new Government’s mini budget which marked-out Cumbria as one of 38 areas with Investment Zones: sites which will see accelerated growth with relaxed planning legislation as well as tax relief schemes for businesses.

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Leaders have submitted bids to Government for three sites in Cumberland in the hope that they will be named as Investment Zones.

Land at Oldside and Port of Workington, land at Kingmoor Park Enterprise Zone and land at Leconfield Industrial Estate in Cleator Moor are all the subject of a bid.

Councillor Mike Johnson, Leader of Allerdale Council said: "I welcome the news that Workington is included in the submission to government to be considered as a location for an Investment Zone.

"In the last few years Allerdale Council has secured millions of pounds worth of investment for the Allerdale area, with some £25 million secured for Workington alone under the Town Deal. If successful, these proposals will hopefully build upon our work aimed at making the area an even more attractive place for businesses to invest and grow."

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At the meeting of Cumberland Council on Tuesday, Lib DemB councillor for Corby and Hayton Roger Dobson will ask about the environmental impact of Investment Zones and their relaxed planning laws.

Cllr Dobson will tell council: “The Government wants to make things worse. To shut the Environment Agency out from monitoring in the ‘Investment Zones’.

“I would call them ‘Pollution Zones’ – and I will explain why.

“There are three areas in Cumberland the Government had its eyes on to strip away safeguards and make into ‘Investment Zones’. The first ‘Pollution Zone’ proposed is in Oldside, Workington and the Port of Workington.

“How is the Environment Agency going to keep an eye on sewage and industrial discharges from an Oldside ‘Investment Zone’ into the Derwent River? How is the Environment Agency going to keep an eye on discharges into the Siddick Pond and bird sanctuary at Oldside if they are not allowed into that ‘Pollution Zone’?”

He will ask Cumberland Council’s frontbench if additional officers will need to be employed to produce proposals for the sites.

Before being removed as Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng argued that Investment Zones will not see an unpicking of environmental protections, just a cutting of "red tape."

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