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Key features of the economy

  • The districts largest town, Whitehaven, has a population of around 24 000 (34% of the Copeland total). It is one of the least accessible parts of Cumbria
  • Copeland has the largest concentration nationally of nuclear skills. The economy of Whitehaven and other settlements in Copeland are dominated by the nuclear sector with an estimated 60 % of jobs dependent on Sellafield
  • As well as Sellafield and the Drigg low level waste repository, the district has a major concentration of a wide range of nuclear research activities, training/skills development and supply chain firms (many at Westlakes Science Park)
  • There are very high wage levels and entry rates into apprenticeships as a result of the nuclear sector and the role of Sellafield Ltd., however, the high wage levels are not fully benefitting the local economy. There are low rates of enterprise and some significant pockets of worklessness and deprivation
  • Many employers rely on a Monday to Friday commuter population
  • Continued need for the renewal of existing house stock in Copeland’s towns

Opportunities and threats

  • The Moorside site is designated for nuclear new build, and there is the potential for other new nuclear activity e.g. Small and Advanced Modular Reactors
  • West Cumbria Mining is planning to open a new mine to the south of Whitehaven
  • The western side of the Lake District is designated as “the quiet part” of the National Park, therefore, considerable scope exists to increase visitor numbers here and in the towns outside the National Park
  • Improvements to the A595 around Whitehaven and to the coastal line would make it much more accessible for visitors and workers alike
  • The North Shore regeneration development plans for hotel, office and incubator space in Whitehaven centre around the harbour offer potential for business and tourism

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