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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Bid to create UK 'energy coast'
The government is considering plans which could transform West Cumbria into "Britain's Energy Coast".

It is claimed the plan, put forward by regeneration bosses, business leaders and MPs, could create 16,000 jobs and a 700m boost to Cumbria's economy.

It includes the creation of business parks, an academy for nuclear skills, a new hospital and major improvements to transport links and housing.

Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling is considering the plan.

'Working hard'

A formal bid for government funding for the scheme is due to be made in the autumn.

The plan is a direct response to the ongoing decommissioning of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant, which is expected to have a huge impact on the West Cumbrian economy.

Jamie Reed, chairman of West Cumbria strategic forum, said: "Our Energy Coast plan has been warmly welcomed by government. This is an exciting time for our plan and we must continue to work hard to ensure that it happens."

Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the Northwest Development Agency, added: "Designed to ensure the area is ready to grasp the opportunities offered by nuclear decommissioning, the programme will help the local economy to successfully adapt to the decline in employment at the Sellafield site."

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