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Cumbria LEP (CLEP) is fully committed to supporting Cumbria’s ambition to reach Net Zero ahead of the current Government commitment and as such agreed the following position in March 2020:

CLEP is fully committed to Cumbria achieving net zero carbon and has made sustainability one of the three touchstones of our Local Industrial Strategy alongside productivity and inclusive growth. Nationally, the UK is committed to achieving net zero by 2050 and if it were possible for Cumbria to meet the target in advance of this, that would be excellent. However, any earlier target must be evidential, fair and underpinned by a comprehensive and deliverable action plan.

CLEP recognises that activity should be focused on those issues that are most relevant for it as an organisation and where the greatest impact can be achieved. Therefore, the following twin priorities were agreed:

  • Supporting Clean Energy Generation; and
  • Supporting Cumbria’s Businesses to Decarbonise.

In addition to these twin priorities on which CLEP will adopt a leadership role, it will also work in partnership to support transport decarbonisation and to ensure that Cumbria’s exceptional natural capital contributes to the achievement of net zero.

In delivering these priorities, CLEP will adopt the following approach:

  • Celebrate Achievement - Cumbria has an exceptional story and the genuine potential to be one of the first Net Zero areas in the country. Let’s tell that story.
  • Plan for Success – action led with serious plans not just warm words
  • Pave the Way – making it easy for investors to choose Cumbria over other destinations
  • Natural Capital – maximising the economic benefits of our exceptional landscape
  • Catalyse Investment – identify the necessary finance to incentivise investment in clean energy generation and business decarbonisation

Supporting Clean Energy Generation

Cumbria is an internationally-recognised centre of nuclear excellence, with the capability to lead on a range of large-scale, nationally significant nuclear infrastructure projects alongside other clean energy technologies.

The nuclear industry is valued at £95 billion in the UK and is growing approximately 2.1% per year. Cumbria’s long associations with the industry, especially in the defence sector and the management and logistics of nuclear materials, makes the county a natural home to a highly experienced nuclear energy workforce. The Nuclear Prospectus (.PDF, 5.3MB) outlines the nuclear opportunity within Cumbria.

Our natural resources make us a major player in the UK’s renewable energy generation with Cumbria’s Energy Coast already home to over 20% of the UK’s windfarm generation capacity including one of the world’s largest off-shore wind farm at Walney II with a capacity of 700 megawatts, sufficient to power the equivalent of 590,000 homes.

Our coastline also has the potential for tidal energy resources in Morecambe Bay and the Solway Firth, and our rural communities are developing technology areas for micro-hydro, biomass and other renewable applications.

Cumbria also has the potential to exploit hydrogen and Carbon Capture Underground Storage opportunities. A study commissioned by Cadent/NGN and National Grid demonstrates the overall viability to establish a Cumbria Hydrogen cluster based on Blue (Morecambe Bay Gas/Carbon Capture), Green (Offshore Wind) and in the long term Pink (Nuclear), with DNV Spadeadam playing a key role in a testing programme to establish safety standards for use of Hydrogen as a domestic fuel. Alongside this the depleted gas fields in Morecambe Bay offer UK’s biggest Carbon Storage potential.

When taken together, these have driven the highest quality supply chain clusters which directly and indirectly support the growth of jobs, skills and education, and innovation and technology.

Overall, the Clean Energy sector is part of Cumbria’s central unique offering that alongside our rural and visitor communities shape our combination of landscape and technology that is unlike any other part of the UK.

Cumbria’s ambitions for clean energy generation are being brought together in the Clean Energy Prospectus, which will be published in May 2022.

Clean Energy Generation Priority Project
Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production

CLEP has been working alongside Copeland Borough Council and wider partners to lead the development of Cumbria’s application to UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA’s) siting competition for a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP).

This is an ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion energy plant, targeting operations in 2040.

It is a UKAEA programme, delivered on behalf of UK Government, with initial aims to produce a concept design and choose a site by 2024. The STEP prototype will be used to develop the technology and enable a fleet of commercial plants to follow in the years after 2040. STEP builds on UKAEA’s expertise in developing ‘spherical tokamaks’ – compact and efficient fusion devices that could offer a more economical route to commercial fusion power.

Fusion has the potential to provide a near-limitless source of low carbon energy by copying the processes that power the sun and stars where atoms are fused to release energy, creating nearly four million times more energy for every kilogram of fuel than burning coal, oil or gas. It is anticipated that STEP will create thousands of highly skilled jobs during construction and operations and attract other high-tech industries to its host region, furthering the development of science and technology capabilities locally and nationally.

Government has made an initial £222 million commitment to STEP, which sits alongside the £184 million already invested for new fusion facilities, infrastructure and apprenticeships at Culham Science Centre near Oxford and at Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

CLEP hosted a local siting competition to identify the best location in Cumbria to be put forward to UKAEA’s siting competition, with the Moorside site being chosen following an independent assessment of this site and a competitor site in Barrow in Furness.

The initial assessment by UKAEA resulted in 15 sites being longlisted, including the Moorside site, with these sites progressing to a more detailed assessment process, including an initial site visit by technical experts to inform the shortlisting process. In mid-October 2021, UKAEA announced that five sites, including Moorside, had been shortlisted as the potential future home of the UK’s prototype fusion energy plant. The other four sites are:

  • Ardeer (North Ayrshire)
  • Goole (East Riding of Yorkshire)
  • Ratcliffe-on-Soar (Nottinghamshire)
  • Severn Edge (South Gloucestershire & Gloucestershire)

A technical site visit was undertaken on 1 December 2021 together with a clarification workshop to secure further information on Cumbria’s application.

Cumbria’s application is now entering the final stage of the process with the Recommendation Panel, led by UKAEA’s Chief Executive Professor Ian Chapman, visiting Moorside on 27 January 2022 to meet with both strategic and technical leads. This will inform the final assessments submitted to the BEIS Secretary of State for decision by end December 2022.

Business and members of the public will be invited to have their say on STEP with a consultation event being held on 31 January 2021. Details will be widely advertised in local media. You can book your online ticket here:

If you would like to know more about Cumbria’s STEP application email:
If you want to know more about UKAEA’s STEP programme please go to:

Business Decarbonisation

CLEP’s Business Decarbonisation 10 Point Plan was produced following engagement with business leaders and interaction with CLEP’s Business Hub. The key focus of each of the 10 points of the Plan are outlined below:

  1. 1.Business Decarbonisation Leadership

    The strategic importance of business decarbonisation requires the involvement of leading Cumbrian support organisations, businesses and business leaders.
  2. 2.Emissions Mapping

    Map emissions to identify those businesses that are the most significant industrial and commercial CO² emitters in Cumbria to inform activity and develop a targeted intervention programme.
  3. 3.High Emitters Programme

    Work with those businesses that have the highest industrial and commercial CO² emissions in Cumbria to support their plans for decarbonisation and track progress.
  4. 4.Business Decarbonisation Summit

    Businesses want to decarbonise their business but need support to understand how best to do this. The Summit will virtually bring together exemplars to share learning and experience and launch the Business Decarbonisation Leadership Group.
  5. 5.Journey to Decarbonisation

    Embed business decarbonisation advice and support in all aspects of CLEP and its sub-contractors SME advisory programmes to ensure that all businesses know what the first or next step in their journey is.
  6. 6.Decarbonisation System Navigator

    There is a lot of advice, support and investment opportunities out there, but many businesses are unsure of where to start. The Decarbonisation System Navigator will provide a single source of information on how to take forward decarbonisation in Cumbria. This will be through an interactive diagnostic tool.
  7. 7.Decarbonisation Events Programme

    Implement a programme of workshops for SMEs that feature specific aspects of decarbonisation, including assessing footprint, calculating return on investment, exploring appropriate technologies and securing investment.
  8. 8.Decarbonisation by Design

    Pilot a business decarbonisation programme with businesses across different sectors. A trained advisor will provide:
    • CO² emissions auditing (Scope 1,2,3)
    • Free, independent, and impartial advice on the best carbon and cost saving measures to implement relating to heat, power, energy efficiency and transport
    • Wider supply chain CO² emissions reduction guidance (scope 3 emissions).
  9. 9.Secure Investment for Decarbonisation by Design

    Develop an application for funding from the Shared Prosperity Fund or other relevant funding stream to scale up the decarbonisation by design programme.
  10. 10.Assess, Map and Track

    Develop a Cumbria-level performance management framework that provides an accurate baseline, tracks progress and provides comparison with other areas to assess progress.

Transport Decarbonisation

Cumbria LEP has supported Cumbria County Council to develop the Cumbria Transport and Infrastructure Plan (CTIP), which sets out the policy framework for transport and connectivity in supporting both sustainable and inclusive growth in Cumbria for the period 2022–2037. It is therefore the prime document to deliver transport decarbonisation.

The CTIP sets out a vision for improving transport and infrastructure in Cumbria that provides for the needs of residents, businesses and visitors as well as respecting our special environment. It also aims to support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and seeks to respond to the challenges of climate change.

These two key challenges are creating a major transformation in the way that we live and work now, which will have significant implications for years to come.

The development and delivery of accessible, sustainable, and connected transport networks is necessary to support communities and economic growth. This needs all modes of transport to be effectively integrated, in a manner that respects our world-class environment.

The CTIP therefore has three key objectives:

  • Clean and Healthy Cumbria – promoting active travel and digital infrastructure as enablers of inclusive economic growth and supporting the health and wellbeing of communities and the decarbonisation of transport networks.
  • Connected Cumbria – promoting improved transport networks across and into Cumbria to connect places and support economic growth and opportunities for businesses and communities.
  • Community Cumbria – promoting integrated approaches to transport, that is affordable, safe and meets the access and mobility needs of all; which supports opportunity and renewal within towns and communities across Cumbria with better transport used to improve social inclusion

The CTIP is dependent on effective partnership working across all sectors, including Government and its agencies, with its implementation reliant on securing funding from a range of sources. The scope of the document is deliberately broad, in order to maximise the availability of sources of funding.

The intention is that the CTIP will be subject to review within 5 years of its adoption as it is recognised that technological advancement, transport policy and availability of Government funding will evolve during that period.

Natural Capital

Our region has the potential to play a significant role in the clean growth agenda and be at the forefront of the transition to a post-carbon economy, with excellent green energy resources and opportunities for new initiatives to build upon its existing portfolio.

Cumbria can play a significant role in carbon sequestration based upon our exceptional natural capital. For example, our extensive peatlands can help absorb emissions from elsewhere in the country.

Interesting work is also underway involving the Environment Agency is seeing how there can be better river catchment flood management involving new approaches to land use and management. As noted in the ideas section, Cumbria is and should be at the forefront of this rapidly developing area.

However, we also need to ensure that Cumbria is resilient and given our exceptional natural capital that we can effectively adapt to climate change.

Cumbria has faced serious challenges from severe weather events in recent years, most noticeably several major flooding events, but also storms and high winds that have impacted on our utilities and transport infrastructure. Many of our main towns and cities have had serious impacts from flooding that can have lasting economic, business disruption and social impacts (Carlisle, Kendal, Keswick, Cockermouth, Appleby, Workington).

As a result of climate change the Met Office long term projections are for the number and intensity of these extreme weather events to rise in Cumbria. Therefore, we need to ensure that the key utilities infrastructure is in place to support the future development and resilience of Cumbria's economy (water and sewerage, energy supply, flood defences/ resilience).

Learn more about Cumbria's infrastructure »

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